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Identify violence instigators, US tells Bayelsa voters

Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State, the United States yesterday vowed to apply appropriate sanctions on political actors who instigate violence in the election.

It urged citizens to participate actively in the exercise and assist the US government to document cases of electoral malpractices perpetrated by political actors.

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The US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, who addressed a press conference in Lagos on the forthcoming election, urged candidates and the people of Bayelsa State to reject violence.

She said any instigator of violence should be held responsible, adding that the US would apply the necessary sanction which might include visa ban for any verified political actor who incited or contributed to violence during the election.

Daily Trust reports that the US State Department had in the aftermath of the 2019 general elections, slammed visa restrictions on some Nigerians whom it said, “operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.”

Asked if such treatment would be meted to any politician or actor who incited violence in the Bayelsa election, the consul general said, “I think for any election that happens in Nigeria, we are going to be looking at, in verifiable cases, those folks who contributed or incited to violence or the disruption of the election in anyway. It doesn’t have to be violence. It could be vote buying, it could be missing ballot, it could be all of these.

“Anyone that can be identified and verified, we are going to consider what consequences we can impose and it might be (visa ban), it might be something different. It really depends on the situation…

“That is why it is incredibly important for people to get out and try to vote and to help us document, as observers, the ballot vote tabulation as it is critical and necessary to help us verify the veracity of voting because that helps us pinpoint where the bad actors might be.”

She said the US would follow the election closely and deploy significant number of observers to monitor the process with other foreign and international organisations.

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