In a response of no consequence with no retaliatory action, the Nigerian government is whining over the visa ban of the United States and Kingdom on some prominent Nigerians with unclean hands in the electoral violence and untoward democratic tendencies in the last elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
But Nigeria invited the countries to witness the Edo and other elections which it hoped would be free from interference and violence.
Many have suggested that the ban by both countries substantially reduced the drumbeat of ‘war’ and violence in Edo State. Some major players have gone silent, operating underground for fear of being fingered by foreign secret agents and their non-government organisation (NGOs) collaborators on ground in Nigeria.
Despite the calibre of Nigerians placed on the ban, it was a spokesman of the Foreign Minister that responded to the Americans and the Britons.
In the statement issued by Mr Ferdinand Nwonye in Abuja, the government said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state that the Nigerian government has taken note of the concerns of some of our partners, especially the U.S. and UK governments regarding the elections in Edo and Ondo States.
“They have also expressed their intentions to take punitive measures against those who decide to, in what they termed as, undermine democracy.
“It is important to highlight that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.
“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The President has continually urged all parties and contestants to peacefully conduct themselves before, during and after the elections, and supported patriotic non-governmental initiatives such as the Abdusalami Abubakar-led Peace Committee.
“Furthermore, it should be noted that there are ample provisions in our laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
“It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.
“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the EU, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and U.S. to cooperate with our relevant agencies,” the government said.
The government said it preferred that information on electoral misdemeanours to Nigeria’s security agencies so local laws can be applied to deal with them.