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General Elections: The world is watching you, British Govt tells politicians

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
16 February 2023   |   4:48 pm
As Nigerians count down to the general elections, the British government has reinstated its resolve to sanction any politician that is culpable of inciting violent across the country.

Catriona Laing

As Nigerians count down to the general elections, the British government has reinstated its resolve to sanction any politician that is culpable of inciting violence across the country.

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, who spoke Thursday in Abuja, said that the entire world is watching Nigeria as regards the coming elections and as such, political parties and their candidates should be committed to the peace accord they signed earlier.

According to her, the British government will have its election observers in all the geo-political zones of the country, and will not hesitate to sanction any politician linked to any act that is capable of derailing the democratic process.

“We shall be looking out for anyone who attempts to violet the electoral process and if it is brought to our attention directly that there are people inciting violence or engaging in hate speech, we can use our policies as tools for sanctions.”

She said that Nigerians who are also British nationals would not be exempted from sanctions if they become culpable to derail the process of election.

The UK envoy, who was confident in the preparedness of security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), especially with the implementation of the electoral law, however, expressed worries that the socio-economic crises occasioned by scarcity of cash across the country are capable of creating violence if not urgently addressed.

“The election in Nigeria is very important, not only to Nigerian citizens but also to the West African region, the African continent and the whole world. The eyes of the world are on Nigeria and what happens at the election will send a very strong signal.

“So, as a run-up to the election, we will continue to invest in trying to create a condition for a credible, free, fair and secure election. The job primarily is for Nigeria but again, we try to play our part by meeting with INEC and the civil society to ensure that everything is perfect”, Laing stated.

She, therefore, urged Nigerians to go and cast their votes on February 25 without any fear of intimidation while political parties are cautioned to commit themselves to respect the outcome of the election and signal the same to their supporters.

And if there be any contention, she admonished that it should go through the normal judicial process rather than resorting to violence.

Speaking further on the crises emanating from naira scarcity and whether it is likely to affect the election, the High Commissioner maintained that INEC is prepared enough for the election.

She added however that anything can happen along the line as Nigerian elections are always complex. “But in terms of necessary preparations, I think we are in good shape. The security forces are also committed to playing their part well and on the issue of the economy, we are watching closely to see that the election is held on time”, she said.