Afenifere, CISLAC, PNM Tackle US Govt over Travel Ban

  • Demand release of names of violators of electoral rules

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Afenifere, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Project Nigeria Movement (PNM) Saturday tackled the United States Government for not making public the names of Nigerian officials it had placed under travel ban.

The organisations, thus, urged the US government to release the names of all violators of electoral rules, insisting that making their names public would serve as deterrence to political actors, whose action might undermine electoral process in the future.

They made the demand in separate telephone conversations with THISDAY saturday, challenging the US government to release the names of the violators of the electoral process to the public in the interest of national peace and unity.

In a statement by a spokesperson for the State Department, Mr. Morgan Ortagus, the US last week announced an urgent imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians it accused of trying to undermine democracy during the 2019 general election.

The ban, which the State Department described as specifically targeted towards certain individuals, came about five months after Nigerians went to the polls in presidential, parliamentary and state elections.

“These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” Ortagus said in a statement.

In its reaction yesterday, Afenifere commended the US for placing travel ban on the political leaders, whose action and decisions undermined democracy and indeed electoral process during the 2019 general election.

Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the group said it “is good the US has taken that steps against violators of electoral rules,” saying it was a good gesture against impunity in the country.
However, the group demanded that the Nigerians “need to know their names for naming and shaming. It is only important as deterrence for would-be violators.”

Also, Head, PNM Secretariat, Mr. Olawale Okunniyi described the decision of the US as a welcome development and as a good step in the right direction.

Even though it would serve as deterrence to future electoral impunity and elections riggers in Nigeria, Okunniyi tasked the US to release the names of the violators.

He said: “For this action to be effective in our view, names of Nigerians alleged to be involved in this unholy act of undermining our fledgling Democracy should be published by the US government.”

CISLAC Executive Director, Mr. Musa Rafsanjani observed that as good as this sanction might be, it would have been more useful if names of specific individuals are published.

Failing to make their names public, Rafsanjani argued that it would not be a good lesson for them, noting that the affected individuals should be named and shamed.

He, also, observed that those Nigerians, who are responsible for electoral fraud, violence and looting, “don’t usually travel to the US, but rather mostly they travel to the United Kingdom, Dubai and Some European countries.”

He, therefore, urged the US “to work with other countries to apply the sanctions on those identified individuals and some government officials who were or are involved in electoral fraud, violence and looting.

“This is because most looters and beneficiaries of electoral violence and fraud they have not been going to the US and even their ill gotten properties are past disappearing in the US

“If the US wants help Nigeria, it must not work alone on this issue. Also, the US government must not punish every Nigerian, who has a legitimate reason to travel to the US. Many innocent Nigerian visa applicants have been unfairly denied visa or entrance to the USA for a crime of some people public officials.”

He, therefore, urged Nigerians “to inform Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions any time they travel out of Nigeria so that government will have your records and be in a better position to intervene when there is a problem with any Nigerians abroad.”