US visa ban: Akpoti lauds US initiative on election riggers

Nigerians have applauded the ban of some Nigerian politicians from entering the soil of the United States over election rigging in recent elections in the country.

Among those who spoke to Tribune Online are lead female candidate, in the last Kogi State gubernatorial election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Natasha Akpoti and Secretary of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), High Chief Peter Ameh.

The United States had on Monday said that it will operate a visa restriction regime on politicians who rigged elections in Nigeria and undermined democratic ethos, thereby eroding confidence in the electoral issues.

Akpoti, who shared her thoughts with select reporters via a conference call said the move by the United States was indeed welcome and should serve as a caution to those plotting similar act in forthcoming elections.

She said the imposition of the visa ban on election riggers was apt and should be extended to the institution that played any role to uphold the same.

She pointed out that while these politicians and their cohort were carrying out the acts, unknown to them, the international community was paying attention and the hammer is now falling in those culpable.

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Her words: “I applaud the decision of the US Government to impose Visa Ban on those who rigged Kogi election. It is a welcome development.

“I was one of the candidates in that election that was closely monitored by the International Community because I am a woman, because of the interest of the international community to ensure greater female participation in positions of authority.

“This action goes a long way to validate all claims my party and I made at the courts with regards to the gross irregularities of electoral processes amidst violence to install Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi State.

“To think the Supreme Court dismissed my petition as being flimsy and lacked evidence whereas all INEC result sheets tendered as evidence had no SDP on them; shows the depth of corruption and dishonesty of the Nigerian judicial system.”

She said every act of violence, political injustice and electoral malpractices that took place were all noted down.

“It is a shame that the Nigeria judiciary up to the Supreme Court upheld that election against all visible proven odds. “Nigeria should realise that as a country we do not live in isolation. Nigeria does not exist in isolation, it exists among the comity of nations hence whatever we do good or bad is on record for everyone to watch.

According to her, today Nigeria is one of the countries struggling economically, struggling socially. “With all the international observer’s presence yet we had the effrontery to uphold that election.”

“So I really appreciate this, I appreciate it because it shows that everyone in the world is not stupid. If we decide to be stupid.

If Nigerians, those in authority decided to uphold illegal electoral actions and processes for their own selfish advantage, they should remember that other countries are not stupid and we are all going to be judged by our actions good or bad.

“It should be on record that upholding Kogi elections is a great setback to Nigerian democracy.”

She expressed the hope that the ban was extended to all including every other principal of institution that was responsible for withholding free and fair election.

“I hope this ban is not limited to Kogi Government officials alone but to every institution responsible for the conduct of the rogue election, INEC inclusive and others.

“No doubt, the November 2019 election has setback Nigeria’s democracy decades of progress backwards.”

High Chief Peter Ameh and Secretary of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on his part, said the visa restriction was a good way to go especially as it does not undermine the integrity of Nigeria but speaks to that of the individuals and institutions that facilitated them.

“The United States decision to ban some Nigerians for election rigging is very well in order because just as they have that right, so does Nigeria ha e the right to ban any National from entering Nigeria for reasons they consider to offend the nation’s policy.

“The United States has been investing in promoting electoral processes in Nigeria as well as supporting our democratic institutions through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) International Democratic Institute (IDI) the International Republican Institute (IRI) etc

“All these institutions have provided one form of support or the other for our INEC and even engaging political parties as stakeholders in our democratic growth, they feel obliged to take this decision. It is commendable especially as it does not amount to undermining our national integrity but those whom the ban have been targeted at,” Ameh stated.

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