Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The British High Commission urged parties and individuals who wished to challenge the outcome of the elections to do so peacefully through legal channels.
The United Kingdom Government says it is collating relevant information to take action against some individuals who engaged in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours in the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections in Nigeria.
In a statement on Wednesday, British High Commission said actions such as UK visa ban will be imposed on such individuals.
The UK’s statement was released about 24 hours after the United States Government threatened to take “all available actions” against those who undermined the just-concluded elections in Nigeria.
The statement was signed by the Senior Communications and Public Diplomacy Officer, Atinuke Akande-Alegbe.
“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 commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for improved logistics during the governorship elections, particularly when compared to the presidential election three weeks ago.
“More polling units opened on time, there was greater evidence of BVAS and IREV working and results uploaded in real time from polling units and collation centres. These are positive markers to build on for future elections,” the Commission stated.
However, the Commission said members of its observation mission observed violence, and voter suppression in numerous 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 hailed the commitment to democracy by many Nigerians despite being faced with 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.”