Barely 23 days to the presidential and National Assembly elections and 37 days to the gubernatorial and state Assembly elections, the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) governments have insisted on the essence of credible elections in the country.
They said the upcoming elections were important not only for Nigeria but for the African continent.
Both governments spoke in separate statements issued by their respective embassies.
The US said it does not support any specific candidate or party but supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. The UK government, on the other hand, said it supports free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria.
The US statement said: “We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to (the) actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections. We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.
“We welcome the signing of peace pledges by Nigerian candidates and their commitment to a peaceful electoral process.
“23 days to the presidential and National Assembly elections and 37 days to the gubernatorial and state Assembly elections, the British High Commission in Abuja would like to reaffirm our strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria.
“We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy. We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity.
“We continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections. We also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm. We will be deploying an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the EU’s Election Observation Mission. Our monitors will, in particular, be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK-based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.
“The UK is a friend and partner of Nigeria. We hope our continued support will play a role in helping Nigeria take a further step towards consolidating the progress made since democracy returned in 1999.”