US Begins Visa Ban on Nigerians for 2023 Election Disruptions
By Gom Mirian, Abuja
The United States, yesterday said it has taken steps to impose visa restrictions on individuals in Nigeria who disrupted the recently concluded elections.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced the development in a statement yesterday.
Blinken clarified that the sanctions were specific to certain individuals and not the Nigerian people or the government as a whole.
“The United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world.
“Today, I am announcing that we have taken steps to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle.
“These actions are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the government of Nigeria as a whole,” the statement read.
Blinken said the affected persons had been involved in voter threats, results manipulation, physical violence, and other activities that undermined democracy.
He said the visa ban was the US’ commitment to supporting Nigeria’s aspirations to strengthen the rule of law.
“Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the immigration and nationality act, these individuals will be subject to restrictions on visas to the United States under a policy covering those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy,” the statement added.
“These individuals have been involved in the intimidation of voters through threats and physical violence, the manipulation of vote results, and other activity that undermines Nigeria’s democratic process.
“The decision to take steps to impose visa restrictions reflects the continued commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.”
The US has repeatedly warned about its strict measures to punish offenders of the electoral process in Nigeria.
In January, Blinken said visa bans were imposed on those who undermined the 2022 gubernatorial polls.
In 2020, US visa restrictions were placed on some individuals for their actions during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
The ban was also placed in 2019.
However, like the previous bans, the names of the affected individuals were not listed.
Again, Tribunal Steps Down Obi’s Petition
For the third time, the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, was forced to step down hearing in the petition filed by Mr Peter Gregory Obi and the Labour Party, LP, against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The petition was stepped down by the court following a poor schedule of documents being sought to be tendered to establish the allegations of malpractices during the February 25 presidential election.
At yesterday’s proceedings, the court discovered that the documents were not properly scheduled as ordered by the Court.
In the drama that ensued at the point of rendering the documents from the 23 local government areas of Benue, a lot of discrepancies were uncovered.
All efforts to reconcile the anomaly and reschedule the documents were unsuccessful as the errors were beyond immediate solution.
To save the situation, counsel to Obi and the Labour Party, Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN, sought to use documents not filed to conduct the proceedings, but the move was rejected on the ground of illegality.
In the end, the court stepped down hearing of the petition and ordered the legal team to go and re-file the schedule of documents in line with the provisions of the pre-hearing report.
The hearing of Obi’s petition had run into stormy waters three times, prompting the shift in the hearing of the petition.
At the time of this report, Peter Obi and the Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba Ahmed, were in the court as their lawyers were running helter-skelter to the Registry of the Court to file a new schedule of documents.
Meanwhile, the five Justices led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani hearing the petition have retired to their chambers to await when the legal team will put its house in order.
In Maiden Meeting, Crush Oil Thieves Now, Tinubu Orders Service Chiefs
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday met with the Service Chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies and told them that he would change the security architecture of the country to blend with his philosophy to address the insecurity challenges across the federation.
The President also said as far as he is concerned, ‘Nigeria should not go on her knees as a result of security challenges while other countries are working, moving forward and recording tremendous achievements.’
Tinubu stated this in his maiden official meeting with Security and intelligence heads led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as the the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen.Babagana Monguno (retd), who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted two hours, said the President has directed heads of security agencies to come out with their blue prints.
He ordered the security agencies to crush anyone involved in oil theft, stressing that his administration will not tolerate such menace.
“He is going to embark on a lot of reforms in terms of our security architecture, he is going to take a closer look at our misfortunes in the maritime domain, focusing particularly on the issues of oil theft, that as far as he is concerned, he is not going to tolerate oil theft wherever the problem is coming from it must be crushed as soon as possible,” he stated.
He has already mandated the security agencies to come up with a blueprint as far as he knows and as far as he concerned, he doesn’t have the luxury of time; and whatever changes will be made have to be done as soon as possible.
“The President also has decided that whatever ventures the armed forces are going to be engaged in, they must carry along those operatives in the theatre. They must be well fed, well kitted, motivated and given all that they require.
He said it was an appraisal meeting for the President to get briefing on the activities of the different security formations and for him to tell them his own philosophy and what he expects from the security heads.
“The President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces has just concluded a meeting of the general security appraisal committee consisting of the Chief of Staff, Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, and heads of the intelligence agencies.
“This is the very first meeting he’s had with the heads of the security agencies. The meeting lasted for two hours.
“Having been briefed by the participants of the meeting, Mr. President, addressed prevailing issues confronting the nation in terms of insecurity and also mentioned his own philosophy towards dealing with national security issues.
“First and foremost, he appreciated the armed forces and intelligence agencies and the wider paramilitary agencies for the work they have been doing in the past couple of years. Their sacrifice, their loyalty, and he also paid tribute to those who died in defending this country, from the great big menace of terrorism, insurgency banditry, oil theft, sea robbery, piracy, etc.
“The President has made it very clear that he’s determined to build on whatever gains that have been made and to reverse misfortunes and turn the tide in our favour.
“As far as he’s concerned, this country should not be on its knees struggling while other countries are working and achieving greater heights,” he said.
President Tinubu said in moving the country forward he needs the security agencies to redouble their efforts, stressing that his own philosophy is one of contemporary security measures dealing with the requirements of the time.
“He has made it very clear that he will not accept a situation in which our fortunes keep declining. And his own trajectory is that national security has to be coordinated, there has to be whatever…whether it is a basket system, but there must be a clearing house.
“All agencies must work to achieve one single purpose. Working at cross purposes and colliding with each other is not something that he will condone. He has made it very, very clear that all the security agencies must comply with the demands of coordination, with the demands of frequent consultations and also timely reports which must be acted on.
“President has said clearly that he will do whatever is within his powers to enable the operational elements but the intelligence agencies must also make their work easy for them by providing the type of intelligence that they require to carry out the assignment,” the NSA said.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has mandated his security chiefs to draw up a fresh blueprint that would guide security operations in the country.
Tinubu, who met with the security chiefs in the country for the first time since assuming office, yesterday, said he had a personal philosophy about how security issues should be handled for effective results.
Obi, LP Challenge Election Results in Rivers, Benue, Niger, 15 Other States
The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential election, Mr Peter Gregory Obi and his party confirmed to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) yesterday in Abuja that they would challenge the election results in 18 states only.
They held that they would not dissipate energies in the states where they won convincingly and without any dispute.
However, at the end of proceedings, Obi and his party tendered certified electoral documents obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC in only six states.
The documents, mainly, Forms EC8A, election results from polling units were admitted as exhibits to be used to establish their alleged riggings and other malpractices during the election.
Presiding Justice of the Court, Haruna Simon Tsammani admitted the documents as exhibits after they were tendered by Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN who represented Obi and the Labour Party.
Meanwhile, INEC, represented by Kemi Pinhero SAN, issued the documents and certified them as genuine but dramatically announced its decision to object to the admission of the documents.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shetima, who are 2nd and 3rd respondents and represented by Adebayo Adelodun SAN in the petition challenging their declaration as winners of the election, also hinted to oppose the admissibility of the electoral documents.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress, APC, represented by Chief Afolabi Fashanu, SAN, argued that it would raise objections against the documents.
Breakdown of the tendered and admitted documents showed that Forms EC8A were tendered in 15 Local Government Areas of Rivers State, 23 in Benue, 18 in Cross River, 23 in Niger State, 20 in Osun and 16 in Ekiti Local Government Areas.
A further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June today by the Court at the instance of the two petitioners.
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