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The United Kingdom (UK) has threatened to take action against those who will perpetrate election violence and other anti-democratic behaviour including hate speech as Nigeria heads to the 2023 general elections.
The UK Minister of State for Development & Africa, Right Hon Andrew Mitchell, said this in a statement on Tuesday, stressing that the sanctions will include Visa ban or other penalties under the UK human rights sanctions regime.
He condemned any action that will undermine the transparent and peaceful elections, adding that Nigeria’s democratic consolidation and stability depends on free, fair, credible elections.
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PART OF THE STATEMENT READS:
“Nigeria matters to the UK, and we are following the run up to these Presidential, National Assembly and Gubernatorial elections very closely. Over the last two months I have met four of the presidential candidates and the Chairman of INEC, and emphasised our support for the process and our commitment to a strong relationship between our two countries.
“The UK Government continues to work closely with INEC and our Nigerian civil society partners to provide advisory support on electoral and legal reforms, assist in strengthening democratic institutions, and advocate for the importance of civil society engagement in electoral and democratic processes to help deliver credible elections.
“It is vital for Nigeria’s stability and democratic consolidation that the electoral process is free, fair, and credible. I encourage all actors in Nigeria to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and prevent violence in the periods before, during and after the elections.
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“I strongly condemn any actions that undermine the peaceful and transparent conduct of the electoral process.
“Where the UK is aware of attempts to subvert democratic processes at the National or State level we are prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours. These actions could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime.
“The UK Government remains committed to supporting credible and inclusive elections, which are fundamental to Nigeria’s continued democratic growth and to the future of regional and global democracy.”