By Deji Elumoye
A former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Timi Frank, and the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2019 Kogi State governorship election, Mrs Natasha Akpoti, have hailed the United States of America’s visa ban on identified election riggers during the conduct of the governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa States in November 2019.
The duo, in reaction to the visa ban on Tuesday while expressing concern about the setback the two elections had on the nation’s democracy, also canvassed for the inclusion of all those indicted during the polls including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, security agents and judges on the ban list.
Frank, in a statement in Abuja, described the announcement by the US government as a commendable step that will further strengthen the nation’s democracy.
He also called on the US government to include the wives and children of all affected politicians, security operatives and judges who help validate fraudulent election results at tribunals and the appellate courts.
According to him, election riggers are enemies of Nigeria as their actions are responsible in part for the insecurity, poverty and social dislocation in the country.
He said: “The US Government must be commended for this move which is in furtherance of its commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria as it would help checkmate individuals who have operated with impunity at the expense of the generality of the Nigerian populace.”
Frank also urged the Government of the United Kingdom and the European Union to emulate the action of the United States’ Government by placing a similar visa ban on judges, security agents, their leaders, and appointees of government who have been undermining the nation’s democracy through subversion of election processes.
Also reacting to the visa ban, Akpoti, who was a candidate in the 2019 Kogi governorship poll, lauded the US Government for slamming a visa ban on those who rigged the Kogi and Bayelsa election.
She said: “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 amid violence to instal Yahaya Bello as Governor of Kogi State.”
Akpoti further stressed that the visa ban has shown that everyone in the world is not stupid, saying: “If 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.”
She also canvassed for the extension of the visa ban to all those actively involved in rigging the polls including INEC and security officials.
“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 set back Nigeria’s democracy decades of progress,” Akpoti said.