The United States has condemned expressly the use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during and after the Nigerian gubernatorial elections that took place on March 18, 2023.
The US Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria released a statement expressing its concern over voter intimidation and suppression in Lagos, Kano and other states during the polls. The mission also praised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the improvement in voting processes compared to the February 25 national elections.
“The use of ethnically charged rhetoric in the Lagos gubernatorial election was concerning. We commend Nigerian political actors, leaders, youth, and citizens who reject violence and inflammatory language, affirming their commitment to democracy.”
The statement called for Nigerian authorities to hold accountable anyone found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting. The US also warned that it would consider additional visa restrictions on individuals believed to be responsible for undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.
The mission commended Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth and citizens who rejected and spoke out against violence and inflammatory language, reaffirming their commitment to the democratic process. It further called for any challenges to election results to follow established legal processes and urged the Nigerian people to work together to strengthen the country’s democracy.
The US observed the elections in Lagos and other states and witnessed some incidents of voter intimidation and suppression firsthand. The mission expressed particular concern over the use of ethnically charged rhetoric during the Lagos gubernatorial election.
The statement concluded by acknowledging the significant operational improvements made by INEC during the March 18 elections, as most polling stations opened on time and results were visible on an electronic viewing platform in a timely manner.