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Buhari blames ‘desperate’ politicians for electoral violence in Nigeria

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed power-hungry politicians for the problems with the country’s electoral process.

“The problems with our electoral process are mainly human-induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office,” Buhari said during his Independence Day Speech.

Buhari further added that the “desperation” of these set of people “leads to compromising the judiciary to upturn legitimate decisions of the people.”

Nigerian elections are usually characterised by violence and political tensions. The intensely acrimonious exchanges between the two major political parties always lead to many clashes, risking further violence during and after the polls.

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According to a report by SBM Intelligence, which monitors sociopolitical and economic developments in Nigeria, 626 people were killed during the 2019 election cycle, starting with campaigns in 2018.

According to a Human Rights Watch report the 2015 general elections, acclaimed to be the relatively peaceful election in recent years, had several election casualities. Rivers state recorded the highest number of incidents of violence with 16 out of the 66 incidents documented by the Independent National Electoral Commission across the country.

In 2011, election violence claimed nearly 1,000 lives in the country’s northern part following the defeat of Buhari by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

In fact, the United States of America on many occasions had imposed visa restrictions on some individuals for their actions during the elections in Nigeria.

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Most recently, the US government on September 14 imposed a visa ban on some unnamed individuals for undermining election processes in Kogi and Bayelsa governorship.

“In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections,” Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, said in a statement.

”These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles. The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”

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The US also said it remained a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy and commended all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen democratic institutions and processes.

Buhari also said he is committed “to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.”

He said the recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State elections should encourage Nigerians about his commitment.

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