The British High Commission announced that UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell MP, is willing to take action against individuals who engaged in or incited violence during the recently concluded general elections in Nigeria. The UK government is currently collecting names of offenders and will impose sanctions, including visa restrictions or human rights sanctions.
The high commission confirmed that they are gathering relevant information in order to take action against certain individuals. Observers deployed in six states noted incidents of violence, voter suppression, vote buying, voter intimidation, destruction and hijacking of election materials, and general process disruption, particularly in Lagos, Enugu, and Rivers.
The UK expressed concern about the harassment of journalists and the use of inflammatory language by some public and political figures. Despite the challenges, the UK commended the Independent National Electoral Commission for its improved performance during the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on March 18, and also praised the Nigerian people’s commitment to democracy, as many voters were willing to cast their ballots despite intimidation and hostility.
The British High Commission’s statement underscored the importance of free and fair elections to Nigeria’s democratic progress and urged all stakeholders to work towards improving future electoral processes.
The commision expressed hope that Nigeria’s political leaders would demonstrate greater commitment to democratic principles and eschew violence and inflammatory rhetoric in future elections.
The statement further emphasized that the UK government would continue to support Nigeria’s efforts towards ensuring credible and peaceful elections, and promoting good governance and respect for human rights. The commission also urged the Nigerian government to take steps to address the issues raised in the observers’ reports, including investigating incidents of violence, vote buying, and voter intimidation, and holding perpetrators accountable.