[Explainer] What It Means that the US Government is Imposing a Visa Restriction on those who Undermine Democracy in Nigeria


The US Administration announced on Monday 14 September that it would impose visa restrictions on Nigerians attempting to undermine the country’s democracy through the use of force or vote-rigging.

The US State Department stated that the visa ban was not directed against Nigerians in general, but against certain individuals who are opposed to peace and democratic values in the country – those who were involved in the election violence, those who were found guilty of rigging the gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States in 2019, and other Nigerians involved in illegal practices in the run-up to the elections in Edo and Ondo States in September and October 2020.

Recall that in January 2019, the UK government and the US issued a warning that they would impose sanctions on individuals found to have instigated violence in the Nigerian elections.

A statement by the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Morgan Ortagus, said that those who issued visa restrictions would receive the sanction for undermining democracy in Nigeria.

According to the US Department of State, the decision demonstrates America’s determination to work with the Nigerian Government to implement its explicit commitment to end corruption and to strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.

Read the statement below:

In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa states elections and in the run-up to the September and October 2020, Edo and Ondo States elections.

These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.

The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian Government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.

This means any individual or Nigerian politician found guilty of electoral malpractice after the Edo governorship election, will be included on the visa restriction list.