US issues visa ban, blocks entry to Nigerians ‘undermining democracy’

United States
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on during a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the State Department in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis/Pool

The United States on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, said it is restricting entry to people “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria” and their family members ahead of the country’s elections this year.

“Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria — including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections — may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will step down after serving two four-year terms following a Feb. 25, 2023 ballot. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is facing unprecedented insecurity that has seen its electoral commission targeted by violence, including the bombing of its headquarters in one of the country’s states last month.

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“The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law,” Blinken wrote.

The visa restrictions are aimed at “certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria,” Blinken added. The statement did not name any specific targets of the new policy, which would make individuals ineligible to travel to the United States.