SERAP writes Biden, seeks visa bans for perpetrators of electoral violence

SERAP writes Biden, seeks visa bans for perpetrators of electoral violence

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged US President Joe Biden to use his authority to impose sanctions against Nigerian officials, lawmakers, and other participants in and financiers of the recent election-related violence.

SERAP urged Biden to freeze their assets and apply property sanctions on them and their families, as well as to cancel the visas of anyone suspected of being responsible for incidents of violence, intimidation, or harassment during the elections.

The letter followed reports of cases of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence in several states of the country. These states include Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Gombe, Lagos, Edo, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, and Taraba states, and Abuja.

In the letter dated 25 February 2023 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The imposition targeted sanctions against suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election-related violence in Nigeria would promote accountability, end impunity, and deter human rights violations.

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“Applying the presidential proclamations, Global Magnitsky Act, and Immigration and Nationality Act as recommended would be very helpful to the efforts to stop further violence before, during and after elections, facilitate free and fair elections, and encourage the people to exercise their right to vote.

“The recommended travel bans, asset freezes and property sanctions should also cover anyone who may perpetrate and sponsor violence and human rights crimes during the postponed elections in 141 polling units, and the governorship elections scheduled for March 2023.

“SERAP welcomes your government’s publicly expressed commitment to impose visa restrictions on officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence. We urge you to include asset freezes and property sanctions on the list.

“Giving serious consideration to our recommendations and promptly implementing them would give meaning to this commitment, and demonstrate the willingness of your government to support and strengthen democracy, citizens’ participation and the rule of law, as well as end a culture of election-related violence in Nigeria.”

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