CIVIL society organisation Save Democracy Coalition (SDC) has called on the US and European Union (EU) authorities to extend their visa travel ban on Nigerian politicians who participate in electoral fraud to unscrupulous judges who commit judicial tape too.
Last month, the US government imposed visa restrictions on several politicians who masterminded violence and rigging of the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States. Then with the Edo and Ondo State gubernatorial elections approaching, the UK followed this up with a threat to impose visa restrictions on any officials involved in election irregularities.
According to the British high commission in Nigeria, these sanctions could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK-based assets and prosecution under international law. As a result, the Edo State elections passed smoothly without any incident, with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying there were incidences of violence or rigging because of the visa ban threat.
With this measure appearing to be very effective, the SDC has called on the US, UK and EU to extend their travel visa ban to Nigerian judges found to have compromised the integrity of the ballot through miscarriage of justice in election petitions they presided over. It added that the visa ban will only achieve the desired results if such sanctions are extended to errant judges who commit judicial rape in the handling of election petitions brought before them.
SDC national coordinator James Ifeoluwa, observed that restricting the visa ban to perpetrators of political violence alone would not check the ugly trend, stressing that such unscrupulous political actors might still achieve their sinister ends, with the aid of compromised judges. He also called for the extension of the ban to cover compromised electoral officials who connive with politicians or political parties to falsify election results for pecuniary gains.
Mr Ifeoluwa said: “We welcome the recent travel visa ban imposed by the US and the UK on Nigerian politicians found complicit in the electoral violence that occurred in some states in the 2019 general elections and during the electioneering campaign in the run-up to the September 19 Edo State governorship election. However, we are of the opinion that the visa ban can only achieve the desired effect if the same measure is extended to judicial officers who collaborate with unscrupulous politicians to compromise the integrity of the ballot through controversial judgments in election petition cases.”