By Chuks Ekpeneru
The Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, has rejected recent visa restrictions alleged to have been slapped placed on him and some other political actors by the United States government for improprieties during the recent governorship election in the state.
The US placed the restrictions on alleged sponsors of violence in the Kogi and Bayelsa states governorship elections.
The Kogi State governorship election was characterized by several acts of violence including the burning to death of Mrs. Salome Abuh, a woman leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Ayoade who wrote on behalf of the state government in the letter faulted the American government saying it had no moral basis to lampoon the conduct of election in Nigeria when it claimed the country, America also had faults in its own elections.
The letter read in part: “For the most part, we concede that elections in Nigeria are complex affairs which will continue to require improvements for the foreseeable future. The 2019 Kogi State gubernatorial election was also not without its challenges. However, it is also crystal clear from critical and composite analyses of the records (official, media, observers, etc) of the November 16, 2020 polls that regrettable incidents were limited to a few polling units, while the overwhelmingly larger portions of the ballot were free, fair and credible.”
“Further, and in line with Nigerian law, the few political parties and individuals who alleged widespread electoral malpractices had free rein to contest the outcome in court. They vigorously litigated their claims over a grueling nine-month period, through a three-step hierarchy of courts, to the inescapable conclusion at the Supreme Court of Nigeria that the said elections satisfactorily complied with the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.”
“The inference from your timing is that the judgment is somehow tainted and did not meet the justice of the case, thereby casting aspersions, not only on the Nigerian judiciary, but on the second term mandate freely bestowed on His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello by the good people of Kogi State.”
“We find this unacceptable, and we protest your presumption. The least you could have done, if indeed this is about democracy and human rights as claimed, is create room, no matter how slim, for fair hearing. As it is now, partisan speculation as to who is indicted, who is not and for what, has become cudgels, furiously swung in the media space by all comers. Your action has therefore added abundant grist to the rumour mills and electrified the merchants of fake news.”
“We believe that if the United States of America, despite her commanding heights and much longer experience as the acclaimed bastion of democracy in the world, is still locked in a fight to defend the integrity of her own electoral processes to this very day, then she ought to accord greater empathy, more civility and much less disruption, to nascent democracies,” she wrote.