Natasha Akpoti asks US to ban INEC officials involved in 'manipulating' Kogi election

Natasha Akpoti, candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last Kogi governorship election, has asked the US government to place a visa ban on officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) involved in that election.

INEC declared Yahaya Bello, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the election which was held in November 2019.

The supreme court also affirmed Bello’s election, after dismissing the appeals filed by Akpoti and Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

On Monday, the US government announced that it had imposed visa restrictions on some individuals for their actions during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said action has also been taken against some persons in the run-up to the September and October 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo.

Reacting to the development in a statement on Tuesday, Akpoti commended the US for the decision.

She said the visa ban validates the claims of her party “with regard to the gross irregularities of electoral processes amidst violence” during the election.

Akpoti asked the US to extend the ban to principal officers of INEC and other agencies saddled with the role of promoting free and fair elections.

“No doubt, the November 2019 election has set back Nigeria’s democracy decades of progress backwards and I do hope this ban is limited not only to the individuals in Kogi State Government but principals of institutions who were saddled with the responsibility to ensure free, fair and safe elections such as INEC,” she said.

“This action goes a long way to validate all claims my party and I made at the courts with regards to the gross irregularities of electoral processes amidst violence to install Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi State.”

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