The US said on Tuesday that it was alarmed by extensive examples of racially motivated voting suppression in Lagos during the March 18 governorship election, and that such behavior would not be tolerated.
Individuals such as Bayo Onanuga, a prominent adviser to President-elect Bola Tinubu, and Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo’ Akinsanya, another Tinubu supporter, have publicly called for violence against Igbo Nigerians in Lagos, claiming that the nation’s commercial metropolis belongs to the Yoruba ethnic group.
Mr Onanuga, in particular, refused to back down from his deadly statements, instead asserting that Igbo ethnic nations have no place in Lagos politics and government.
Thousands of Igbo citizens claimed to have been sent back.
Political thugs loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress were escorting voters away from polling stations, with many being asked to speak Yoruba before being allowed to vote.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was re-elected on the basis of suppression of opposition votes, has appealed for calm in the aftermath of his triumph, saying he would work to mend ties and prevent ethnic tensions across the state.
The US declaration came on the heels of similar observations by other election monitors, who stated Nigeria’s 2023 elections fell short of the norms set in prior cycles in recent years.
Read the complete statement issued by the United States below:
On March 18, Nigeria held the second round of its electoral process, involving gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
The unsettling acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that occurred during those votes in Lagos, Kano, and other states have gravely worried the United States. Representatives of the US diplomatic mission in Lagos and abroad observed the polls and experienced some of these instances firsthand.
The use of ethnically tinged rhetoric before, during, and after the Lagos gubernatorial election was especially troubling. We applaud all Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth, and people who have opted to reject and condemn such violence and provocative language, demonstrating Nigerians’ commitment to and respect for the democratic process.
We urge Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice anyone found to have authorized or carried out measures to destabilize the country.
During the election process, intimidate people and suppress voting. The United States would also consider all appropriate sanctions, including increased visa restrictions, against people suspected of harming Nigeria’s democratic process.
During the February 25 general elections, the United States joined other international observers in advising the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve voting processes and technical features that had faults.
The March 18 elections appear to have seen substantial operational improvements, with polling locations generally opening on time and the majority of results appearing on an electronic viewing platform in a timely way.
The United States reiterates its request for any challenges to election results to follow established legal procedures, which must be followed.
not be interfered with. We also encourage Nigerians to collaborate as they participate in and improve the country’s dynamic democracy.