The U.S. Department of State has banned individuals involved in “undermining democracy” in Nigeria’s 2023 election from entering the United States, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Monday.
Without listing the names of those who will be subject to new visa restrictions, Blinken said:
“These individuals have been involved in intimidation of voters through threats and physical violence, the manipulation of vote results, and other activity that undermines Nigeria’s democratic process.”
The measures stoked indignation from commentators online, who called for the release of the names of those included in the ban, as well as harsher sanctions on those involved in allegations of fraud in the February 25th race.
“This kind of virtue signalling does more harm than good, which is ironic coming from a building so hyper-allergic to the kinds of targeted sanctions that might possibly have an effect,” said Cameron Hudson a senior Africa analyst at the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“Many Nigerians have money or assets in the US so if you wanted to send a message, targeting those assets would be a more direct way to signal US displeasure and perhaps serve as a warning to others.”
Nigerians on the visa ban list will not be informed of the travel restrictions, but will be denied entry into the country, Hudson adds.
“That said, there is no chance that [Nigerian President Bola] Tinubu is on the list. It is probably low-level people at the state level versus federal elections officials or party officials.”
The latest travel restrictions follow a round of US visa bans imposed in January on Nigerians and their families for being “complicit in undermining democracy” in the run-up to the election.
Nigerian opposition candidates kicked off their legal challenge to the presidential election result in a Court of Appeals hearing in Abuja last week.
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