Afenifere, PANDEF, PDP Welcome US Visa Ban on Riggers of Bayelsa, Kogi Polls

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By Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha

The pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere; its Niger Delta counterpart, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); and the Peoples Democratic Party have applauded the United States for placing a visa ban on politicians that rigged the November, 2019 gubernatorial polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

The groups also called on the international community to emulate the US government by meeting out stiffer penalties against identified election triggers in Nigeria.

Afenifere expressed happiness that the anti -democratic tendencies of Nigerian politicians are no longer tolerated by the US, which practises the best democracy in the world.

National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY ysterday evening that “we doff our hats for the US for taking such a bold action against anti-democratic elements in Nigeria. If the election triggers are shielded with impunity within our system they now know there are consequences abroad. “We thank the US,” he explained.

In its reaction, PANDEF in welcoming the visa ban, stated that the decision of the United States government clearly shows its commitment to the strengthening of democracy in Nigeria.

It, however, considered the US action not stringent enough, because previous visa bans did not deter the politicians from continuing with their shameful acts.

PANDEF in a statement by its spokesman, Hon. Ken Robinson, stressed that though the United States government did not reveal the identities of the individuals affected by this latest visa ban, “those who have continued to distort the nation’s electoral processes, are known to Nigerians”.

It further appealed to all democratic nations in the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union, to also impose similar restrictions on election riggers in Nigeria.

The group also called for tougher actions to be meted out, by the international community, “to these individuals who continue to subvert the will of the people, and undermine the nation’s democratic process”.

It further submitted that the wanton acts of coercion, intimidation and violence against citizens, before, during and after elections, by unscrupulous individuals cannot be allowed to continue.

“Therefore, the best gift President Muhammadu Buhari, and the 9th National Assembly would bequeath to Nigerians, at the minimum, and perhaps the best punishment for “election riggers”, is an amended Electoral Act that would guarantee free, fair, and credible elections in the country; where the votes of Nigerians would truly count. What we have today is a situation whereby the votes of the people don’t count. And that is the reason, politicians conduct themselves in ways and manners that show total disregard to the opinions and feelings of the people”, PANDEF stated.

On its part, the PDP has also commended the United States over its latest imposition of a visa ban on some Nigerian politicians accused of undermining democracy and the electoral process in Nigeria.

In a statement issued yesterday by the spokesman for the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party urged the United States Department of State to include family members and assets of the politicians affected by the ban.

The PDP also urged the United States to invite the European Union as well as other nations, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, to also join in imposing similar sanctions on electoral violators in Nigeria who are bent on destroying the nation’s democracy.

It similarly demanded an extension of the ban to families as well as confiscation of assets of such individuals to serve as a stronger deterrent to protect innocent Nigerians who are left to bear the brunt of the misdeed of such unpatriotic persons.

The PDP added that the ban, if taken across the globe, would be a final warning to the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as “compromised” security and electoral officials, being used to perpetrate electoral violence and manipulations.