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US, UK announce visa restrictions for anyone who disrupts Nigeria's 2019 elections

Nigerian voters at a polling unit (image used for illustrative purpose)

In a statement released by the U.S. Mission on Thursday, January 24, 2019, the government emphasised that it does not support "any specific candidate or party in Nigeria's upcoming elections" but "the Nigerian democratic process itself".

Noting that it would pay close attention to the elections, the Mission called for a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.

It also disclosed that individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence before, during and after the elections would face stiff consequences, including visa restrictions.

"Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members," the statement read.

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In a similar vein, the British High Commission in Abuja reaffirmed its strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria.

"We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity," the statement read.

The Mission also appealed to "actors across the political spectrum" to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm.

While disclosing that it would deploy an extensive observation mission for the elections, the Mission said it would pay particular attention to any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media.

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"We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law," the statement read.

2019 general elections

The 2019 general elections will kick off with the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 while Governorship and State Assembly elections will take place on March 2.

A total of 84,004,084 are registered to vote in the elections.

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