Edo, Ondo elections: UK  threatens errant politicians with seizure of assets, visa ban

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…Group lauds UK sanction plans

The United Kingdom has threatened to ban anyone guilty of electoral violence ahead of the Ondo and Edo governorship elections.

In a statement on Tuesday, the UK embassy in Nigeria also threatened to seize overseas assets of such persons.

Nigeria’s elections are usually marred with violence occasions by thuggery and snatching of election materials, as was the situation in recent elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

The UK  on its Twitter handle, said it will send observers for the upcoming elections in the two states.

“As a friend and partner of Nigeria 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,” it said.

“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.

“We will be deploying observation missions to both the Edo and Ondo elections and supporting civil society led observation.

“The UK 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.

“This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK based assets or prosecution under international law.

“The UK will continue to provide support and engagement as we move towards these elections. We urge INEC, the Police and all other agencies involved to work together to deliver free, fair and credible elections.”

It added that Catriona Laing, UK high commissioner to Nigeria, has met with leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during which she called for a hitch-free election.

“The discussions focused on the need for the parties’ leaders to prevail on supporters to avoid violence before and after the elections,” the statement read.

“And we welcome the Edo candidates’ signature of the National Peace Committee and INEC convened peace accord.”

The warning from the UK comes a day after the United States placed a visa ban against individuals who compromised recent governorship elections.

In the meantime, the Nigeria Consultative Front (NCFront) has commended threats by the UK to impose sanctions on any politician found to have influenced rigging or violence in the forthcoming Edo and Ondo States governorship elections.

The conveners of the front, Yunusa Tanko and Peter Ameh, gave the commendation while speaking with newsmen at a “National Dialogue on the Future of Democracy in Nigeria” on Tuesday in Abuja.

Tanko said that such action would go a long way in strengthening the Nigeria’s electoral process and compel most political actors to play by the rules.

He, however, said Nigeria needed something more concrete than visa sanctions by the U.S. and UK

“We need to go back to the drawing board and look into the Justice Uwais report, INEC also need to be unbundled because as it stands, it is overwhelmed by infractions in our electoral processes,” Tanko said.

He said that for Nigeria’s elections to be credible and fair, there was need for implementation of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Report on Electoral Reforms.

He said one of the recommendations was the creation of special court to try electoral offenders and manipulators.

He said that a process where some persons imposed candidates on the electorates against their wish owing to their deep pockets or influence would continue to undermine Nigeria’s democracy, “it must be addressed.”

The topic of the dialogue held simultaneously via zoom and physically was: “Crisis of Internal Party Democracy in Nigeria: What effects, What Panacea?”