The United Kingdom has said it has started collating relevant information about people who disrupted the 2023 elections in Nigeria, with a view to taking action against them.
The UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell MP, said on 21 February, that the UK is prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours, and action could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under the country’s human rights sanctions regime.
“We can confirm that we are collating relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals,” the British High Commission in Nigeria said in a statement on Wednesday.
It said some public and political figures used inflammatory ethnoreligious language during Nigeria’s governorship and state assembly elections.
“We call on all leaders not just to distance themselves from this kind of language, but to prevent those who speak on their behalf from doing so in this way.”
Also, the UK said members of its observation mission personally observed violence and voter suppression in numerous voting locations.
“We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote buying and voter intimidation, the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers.
“In addition, we observed incidents of harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech and a free press are crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.”
While explaining that the 2023 elections were not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians, the UK said the elections are also important to Africa and the world as a whole.
“As a long-term partner, the UK is committed to strengthening the ties between our countries and peoples, including by supporting democratic development,” it added.