The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked United States President Joe Biden to ban Nigerian officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of violence during the February 25 elections.
Nigerians had gone to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president and members of the National Assembly for a four-year tenure. There were reports of violence in some states, with soldiers gunning down a suspected ballot box snatcher.
Some states with reported cases of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence include Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Gombe, Lagos, Edo, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, and Taraba states, and the Federal Capital Territory.
A day after, the rights group issued a statement, urging the US President to exercise his powers “pursuant to the Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697 and the Immigration and Nationality Act to ban Nigerian officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of violence during the just concluded elections”.
SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, wants President Biden to “block or revoke the visas of anyone suspected to be responsible for cases of intimidation, harassment, and violence during the elections, and to impose asset freezes and property sanctions on them and their families” in line with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
“The imposition of targeted sanctions against suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election-related violence in Nigeria would promote accountability, end impunity, and deter human rights violations,” the statement read.
“Applying the presidential proclamations, Global Magnitsky Act, and Immigration and Nationality Act as recommended would be very helpful to the efforts to stop further violence before, during, and after elections, facilitate free and fair elections, and encourage the people to exercise their right to vote.
“Armed thugs snatched ballot boxes, took away election materials, broke chairs, and dispersed voters in several areas in Kogi State, including in Anyigba Dekina towns. Thugs also reportedly attacked polling units in polling units in Niger, Delta, and Katsina states, stealing at least eight BVAS machines.”
The situation forced the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the presidential and national assembly elections in 141 polling units in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State because of incidents of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence.