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Nigerian governor among Nigerians placed on Visa restrictions by U.S. for ‘undermining democracy’ during 2019 election

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The United States on Tuesday announced visa restrictions on Nigerians it accused of trying to undermine democracy at this year’s general elections.

The ban, which the State Department described as specifically targeted towards certain individuals, came about five months after Nigerians went to the polls in presidential, parliamentary and state elections.

“These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” Morgan Ortagus, a spokesperson for the State Department, said in a statement.

The statement did not name the individuals or say how many were affected by the measure, but it was gathered that the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai may be among those restricted from travelling to the United States.

President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the February 23 election, which was marred by postponements, logistical challenges and violence.

The warnings came amidst widespread pre-election fears fuelled by controversial statements of politicians. One of such comments came from Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai.

Mr El-Rufai had said during a television appearance that external forces who attempted to forcibly intervene in Nigerian internal affairs would be flown back to their countries in bodybags.

The comment drew broad condemnation, including from the opposition PDP, and Mr Buhari, an ally of Mr El-Rufai, also disassociate himself from it and reiterated the security of foreign observers and other visitors who were in the country for the election.

Mr El-Rufai insisted that his comments were not to threaten armless foreign observers or diplomats but only aimed at reasserting Nigeria’s sovereignty against external aggressions.

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