The United Kingdom Government has expressed the importance it attaches to Nigeria’s elections, insisting that the country matters and that the run up to the elections is closely monitored.

It also promised to continue to work closely with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the civil liberty organisations to ensure that the forthcoming elections are peaceful and credible, and called for proactive intervention to calm any tensions and prevent violence in the periods before, during and after the elections.

The UK’s Minister of State for Development & Africa, The Right Hon Andrew Mitchell, in a statement he issued on Tuesday ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 general election, said: “Nigeria matters to the UK, and we are following the run up to these Presidential, National Assembly and Gubernatorial elections very closely. Over the last two months I have met four of the presidential candidates and the Chairman of INEC, and emphasised our support for the process and our commitment to a strong relationship between our two countries.

“The UK Government continues to work closely with INEC and our Nigerian civil society partners to provide advisory support on electoral and legal reforms, assist in strengthening democratic institutions, and advocate for the importance of civil society engagement in electoral and democratic processes to help deliver credible elections.

“It is vital for Nigeria’s stability and democratic consolidation that the electoral process is free, fair, and credible. I encourage all actors in Nigeria to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and prevent violence in the periods before, during and after the elections.”

According to him, “I call on party officials at all levels to respect human rights and electoral laws and institutions and take a firm stand against violence and hate speech. I strongly condemn any actions that undermine the peaceful and transparent conduct of the electoral process.

“Where the UK is aware of attempts to subvert democratic processes at the National or State level we are prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours. These actions could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime.

“The UK Government remains committed to supporting credible and inclusive elections, which are fundamental to Nigeria’s continued democratic growth and to the future of regional and global democracy.”

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