The ruling All Progressives Congress and opposition Peoples Democratic Party have described the decision of the United States to place visa restrictions on some Nigerians accused of undermining democracy as a welcome development.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who disclosed the decision in a statement on Wednesday, said the sanctioned individuals, whose names he did not reveal, will be ineligible for US visas.

The top-ranking diplomat also explained that some family members of those barred from the US may also be subjected to the same restriction.

The statement read, “We are committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world. Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in a recent Nigerian election.

“Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, these individuals will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.

“Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions. Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.”

Blinken clarified that the visa restriction was not targeted at the Nigerian people or the government.

He described it as a reflection of the US government’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s aspiration to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

“The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria. The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law,” the statement said.

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Speaking exclusively with The PUNCH, the Director of Publicity of the APC, Bala Ibrahim, said the party frowned at anything capable of threatening democracy in the country and welcomed sanctions against anyone found culpable.

 “Our chairman was in the National Assembly as a Senator when the debate on electoral reforms was ongoing in the Red Chamber and he participated actively. The outcome of those reforms is the Electoral Act 2022 which every lover of democracy is proud of today

 “The party which drove that process cannot be part of any move to undermine democracy. So, we welcome this news totally,” he said.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said the party had been calling for such sanctions.

He said, “This (sanction) is what we have been saying in our press conferences for years. In our meetings with the European Union, local and foreign election observer missions, our position has remained the same. We are committed to credible elections in Nigeria and everywhere in the world.

“Election riggers must not go unpunished. It should even go beyond visa restrictions. Nigerians are eagerly waiting to elect their new leaders and nobody should stand in their way.”

On his part, spokesman of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Tanko Yunusa, also lauded the US for taking steps to checkmate the activities of the “enemies” of Nigeria who are bent on having things done their way.

“The Labour Party is very pleased with this step and we urge other members of the international community to follow suit. Election riggers must not be allowed to have a say in our democracy. Elections are not a do-or-die matter but the enemies of our democracy want the world to mock and taunt us,” he said.

By Vision

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