The United States says it will consider consequences for violators of electoral rules during the gubernatorial election in Bayelsa state.
Claire Pierangelo, US consul general in Nigeria, disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos, on Wednesday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had scheduled November 16 for the election in both Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Pierangelo said the consulate will follow the election closely, adding that some of its observers will be deployed to ensure free and fair election in the oil-rich state.
“We are going to consider what consequences we are going to impose. As friend of Nigeria and its people, we will follow the election closely. We will be out there in the field observing the election,” she said.
“I am aware that many other foreign, international organizations will also be on the ground in Bayelsa. We will work closely with our colleagues and partners in the international community to promote a credible process that will benefit the people of Bayelsa.”
The consul general called on INEC to operate “free from outside pressure and intimidation and in a totally objective manner.”
She also urged security operatives to be professional while ensuring a peaceful environment for the people of Bayelsa to exercise their franchise.
“Voter intimidation, vote buying, interference by security forces, and violence cannot be tolerated. The professional conduct of all stakeholders – especially security forces – is crucial for free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful elections,” she said.
“The Nigerian security services must provide a safe, secure, and impartial environment for the people of Bayelsa to exercise their right to vote. Political actors, political parties, bloggers and other influencers must not engage in hate speech or incite violence. People who engage in such conduct must be held accountable.
“I encourage all eligible voters in Bayelsa to participate in the upcoming election and exercise their political franchise. A large turnout will enhance the credibility of the election and Nigeria’s democratic reputation. I would especially ask that every effort be made to boost the participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities.”
In the buildup During the 2019 general election, the US announced the imposition of visa ban on politicians who “undermined” Nigeria’s democracy.
Pierangelo said although no formal decision has been made regarding the Bayelsa election, the US government will consider the consequence to impose depending on the outcome of Saturday’s poll.