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US Begins Visa Ban On Persons Undermining Democracy in Nigeria

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In what has been described as full implementation of its threat to deny persons undermining democracy in Nigeria visas to the United States (US), the US government has reportedly made some Nigerian Judges the first set of victims after their applications to attend the Judges’ Conference in the US were rejected, though their aides were obliged visas.

This development is coming to light barely three weeks after the United States of America announced visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in the country.

The US Secretary of State, Mr. Anthony J. Blinken, stated that the decision was made in accordance with Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that anyone found to be ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.

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Mr Blinken added that in line with the policy, more people may be declared ineligible for United States visas if they undermine the democratic process in Nigeria, including before, during, and after the country elects in 2023.

He further noted that the US would also subject the family members of such persons, indicating that the country is taking those steps to reaffirm its commitment to support the advancement of democracy in Nigeria and around the world.

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While the sanction might have appeared like a fuss at the time of its announcement, it has come to light that the US has made true its resolve.

Nigerians were in shock when the former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke, revealed that some Nigerian Judges are already bearing the brunt of the sanctions.

According to him the implementation of the sanction has led to Visa restrictions on some of the members of the Nigerian judiciary barring them from traveling to the US.

Mr Duke who spoke at the launch of a memoir of retired Justice Charles Archibong, on Wednesday noted that some of the said Judges are facing sanctions by the United States because of the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court Justices, declaring Senator Hope Uzodinma, the Imo State governorship candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC), who was also the fourth runner up in the 2019 elections as the winner of the election.

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The Apex court, in the judgment delivered on January 14 2020 by Justice Kekere-Ekun ousted Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was initially declared a winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the election results were contested.

The panel that sat during the hearing included Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Justice Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Amiru Sanusi, Justice Amina Adamu Augie, and Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji.