The United Kingdom (UK) government said it is gathering information to take action against individuals who engaged in or incited electoral violence and other anti-democratic behavior in Nigeria’s governorship and state assembly elections on March 18, 2023.
The British High Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that such individuals will face actions such as a UK visa ban.
The UK statement came about 24 hours after the US government threatened to take “all available actions” against those who harmed Nigeria’s recently concluded elections.
Atinuke Akande-Alegbe, Senior Communications and Public Diplomacy Officer, signed the statement.
“The UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell MP, said on 21 February, that the UK is prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours, and action could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime.
“We can confirm that we are collating relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals,” the statement read.
The British Commission praised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for better logistics during the governorship elections, especially in comparison to the presidential election three weeks ago.
“There was more evidence of BVAS and IREV working, and results were uploaded in real time from polling units and collation centers.” “These are encouraging signs for future elections,” the Commission stated.
The Commission, on the other hand, stated that members of its observation mission witnessed violence and voter suppression in a number of voting locations on Saturday.
“We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote buying and voter intimidation the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers.
“In addition, we observed incidents of harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech and a free press are crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.
“The UK is concerned by the use of inflammatory ethno-religious language by some public and political figures. We call on all leaders not just to distance themselves from this kind of language, but to prevent those who speak on their behalf from doing so in this way,” the statement added.
The British Commission praised many Nigerians’ commitment to democracy in the face of intimidation and hostility.
“We urge any party or individual who wishes to challenge the process or outcome of the elections to do so peacefully and through the appropriate legal channels. We will be observing the course of legal challenges made.
“The 2023 elections are not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians, but to Africa and the world as a whole. As a long-term partner, the UK is committed to strengthening the ties between our countries and peoples, including by supporting democratic development.”