HURIWA urges US, UK to slam travel ban if Ondo poll is rigged

Akeredolu, Ajayi and Jegede during the Peace Accord meeting in Akure
Akeredolu, Ajayi and Jegede during the Peace Accord meeting in Akure
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Leading rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has applauded the United States and the United Kingdom’s embassies for the concrete steps they have adopted to help Nigerians clean up her electoral system. 

Also, the rights group has specifically urged the U.K. and U.S. embassies to follow through with their threats to impose a visa ban on electoral officials and political actors if the weekend’s governorship election in is undermined, just as the rights group condemned the police for failing to arrest and charge to court the hoodlums in Ondo responsible for the spate of inter-party violence that have rocked the campaigns for the Saturday’s poll.

“It would seem that those who were involved in the different armed attacks targeting candidates of All progressive congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (), and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) are persons above the law of the land,” the body said in a statement. “Why has no one been persecuted? This impunity is the reason violence against citizens from all kinds of non-state actors have continued. The Police Command must be tasked to arrest and prosecute all political thugs because nobody is above the law of the land.”  
 
HURIWA recalled that the U.K. had warned of imposing sanctions, including visa ban and asset seizure on Nigerians who incite or execute violence in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections. The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said in a statement on Tuesday that the U.K. greatly values Nigeria’s democracy and thus will not condone any violent act that may undermine the democratic process in the coming elections.
 
“As a friend and partner of Nigeria,” Laing said in a statement, “we are closely following the lead up to the off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for September 19 and October 10 respectively.

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“These elections are important, both as an essential element of effective governance within both states and an indicator of the strength of Nigeria’s democratic institutions.” 

HURIWA recalled that the warning came days after the United States Government announced it was imposing visa restrictions on some Nigerians undermining the electoral processes in the run-up to the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.
 
Laing said the U.K. would deploy observers to the two states to monitor the elections. The British High Commissioner, who met leaders of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party () on Monday reminded the politicians that apart from their asset being seized in the U.K., they could experience prosecution as well.
 
According to Laing, “The U.K. takes a strong stand against election-related violence and, just as we did in the general election in 2019, will continue to take action against individuals we identify as being responsible for violence during the elections.

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“This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the U.K., restrictions on access to U.K.-based assets or prosecution under international law.”
 
The warning comes a day after the United States issued a similar statement, announcing visa restrictions on some politicians it said orchestrated violence and rigging during the governorship elections in Kogi and the Bayelsa States, just as the British High Commissioner also spoke on the peace accord recently signed by both political parties and urged and security agents to ensure peaceful and fair elections, saying thus: “We urge , the police, and all other agencies involved to work together to deliver free, fair and credible elections.” 
 
A statement emanating from the human rights body said; “HURIWA hereby appeals to young voters in never to accept to be lured into becoming political thugs for any politician because their future should be uppermost in their minds and in their calculations. The youth who are approached to take up arms for politicians should ask the politicians to bring their own biological children and to stop attempting to destroy their future. The youths must take responsibility to ensure peaceful election in Ondo because a peaceful ensures prosperity for them.” 

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