US, UK Are Unserious About Sanctioning Election Riggers – Akinyemi

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The United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) may not follow through on their threats to impose sanctions on election riggers and violence sponsors in Nigeria’s just-conducted 2023 General Elections, according to A former Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi.

Akinyemi claimed on Arise Television‘s Morning Show on Friday, which was monitored by Saturday Telegraph, that the two world powers are fond of threatening to discipline electoral criminals whenever there is an election in Nigeria, but that they rarely follow through on their promises.

The elder statesman spoke against the backdrop of Nigerian elections being marred by violence and the possibility of visa bans imposed by the US and the UK.

In his words: “Every time there is an election in Nigeria, both the United States of America and the United Kingdom always say they will sanction those they suspect of malfeasance or attempting to sabotage the electoral process, but nothing ever happens.

“I’m not aware of anyone being sanctioned in terms of visa denial. We do hear this mentioned from time to time, but no sanctions were ever imposed.

“The rationale for this is that those they are likely to know are behind these attempts to undermine the democratic process and have large bank accounts in their own countries. They are more concerned with maintaining those bank accounts than with imposing these sanctions.

“The ordinary foot soldiers who carry the guns, cutlasses, and big sticks that we saw on television don’t apply for visas in any case because they don’t want to go anywhere.” That is why I believe this is simply noise; it will not lead anywhere.”

Akinyemi, on the other hand, recalls being a member of the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel, which suggested the establishment of an electoral offences commission and an electoral offences court or tribunal, but that nothing became of the suggestions.

He revealed that the report was scrapped due to the death of former President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, who he said had promised, both at the start and when he received the report, that he would implement it without any changes, but that after his death, former President Goodluck Jonathan did not.

Akinyemi emphasised that Nigeria has never tried or punish electoral criminals, and that even in the absence of the Uwais Report, there are statutes in the country’s Criminal Code prohibiting hooliganism and conduct likely to provoke a breach of the peace.

Akinyemi queried: “You want to tell me that because it’s election season, you can break someone’s head and not be charged with assault?”

The academic said: “People who cause injury or grave bodily harm do not require an electoral tribunal to be prosecuted. I was just listening to a Commissioner of Police in one of our states who described the number of persons they had arrested and the crimes they had committed, but he never mentioned the crimes perpetrated during the election.

“He stated that they would be charged in court as soon as their investigations were completed. I hope this happens, but the International Criminal Court (ICC) is there to deal with crimes such as electoral violence and agitation against groups, and this has been utilised in Cote D’Ivoire, so we must be cautious.”

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