UK expresses concerns over violence, vows to punish election riggers
By Mukhtar Tijjani
The United Kingdom has promised to deal with any individual, politician or not, who may want to use violence or engage in practices that may jeopardize the future of Nigeria’s democratic process.
This promise comes as the country prepares for this Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, made this known on Tuesday during an interview she had on Arise TV.
According to Laing, the British government has decided to toe the American government’s line, which promised earlier this month during a visit to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to impose a visa ban on an individual or group of individuals who plan or get involved in violent activities that may jeopardize the Nigerian electioneering process.
“So our policy is very similar to the Americans’, and we are watching very closely, and if we have evidence to suggest that an individual—who isn’t necessarily a politician, by the way,” she said.
She added that such an individual or group of individuals doesn’t have to be politicians but “could be somebody from the security side; it could be an individual citizen who is not directly a politician.”
As long as the person is inciting violence or directly participating in violence, the British government, through the High Commission in Nigeria, can prevent such an individual from “traveling to the UK.”
Unlike the Americans, the high commissioner promised to use sanctions as an effective tool to deal with election troublemakers.
She said, “We also have a new tool in our arsenal that is human rights-related—sanctions can be placed on that individual.”
“You will see later this morning a statement on the election from our development minister and African minister, Andrew Mitchel, and there will be a clear statement on this that will be coming out this morning.”
Laing also said the United Kingdom is concerned about potential violence in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.