2023: UK Advises Nigerians to Calm Tensions, Prevent Electoral Violence3d render United Kingdom Flag (Close-up)

By Starrys Obazei | February 21, 2023

A few days before the forthcoming 2023 elections, the United Kingdom has advised critical stakeholders and political parties to ensure violence-free polls.

Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s Minister of State for Development & Africa, gave this advice in his statement to Nigerians and made it available to PUNCH on Tuesday.

Mitchell noted that the UK and its Government remained committed to supporting credible and inclusive elections, which are fundamental to Nigeria’s continued democratic growth, and to the future of regional and global democracy.

He, however, urged party officials to respect electoral laws and institutions, and avoid hate speech.

His statement read in part: “Nigeria matters to the UK, and we are following the run-up to these Presidential, National Assembly and gubernatorial elections very closely.

“Over the last two months, I have met four of the presidential candidates and the Chairman of INEC, and emphasized our support for the process and our commitment to a strong relationship between our two countries.

“The UK Government continues to work closely with INEC and our Nigerian civil society partners to provide advisory support on electoral and legal reforms, assist in strengthening democratic institutions, and advocate for the importance of civil society engagement in electoral and democratic processes to help deliver credible elections.

“It is vital for Nigeria’s stability and democratic consolidation that the electoral process is free, fair, and credible. I encourage all actors in Nigeria to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and prevent violence in the periods before, during and after the elections.

“I call on party officials at all levels to respect human rights and electoral laws and institutions and take a firm stand against violence and hate speech. I strongly condemn any actions that undermine the peaceful and transparent conduct of the electoral process.”

The Minister added that the UK was ready to take action against anyone involved in anti-democratic behaviours.

He noted: “Where the UK is aware of attempts to subvert democratic processes at the national or state level, we are prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours. These actions could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime.”

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