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UK Says Nigeria’s Elections Being Closely Followed, Temporarily Closes Visa Application Centres on Feb 24, 27

It called for proactive intervention to calm tensions and revent violence.

The Right Hon Andrew Mitchell

The United Kingdom Government has expressed the importance it attached 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 election are peaceful and credible, and call for proactive intervention to calm any tensions and prevent violence in the periods before, during and after the elections.

It will also temporarily close its visa application centres in both Lagos and Abuja during the period of Nigeria’s elections holding on February 25.

The UK Visas and Immigration disclosed this via its verified Twitter handle on Tuesday.

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 Elections, 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.”

He also said: “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.”

He insisted that: “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.”

He said: “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.”

Meanwhile the UK revealed that the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos would be closed on Friday and next Monday, because the general election scheduled for February 25.

According to the UK, customers can purchase the Keep my Passport in order to retain their passports during the period of closure.

It read, “The Visa Application Centres in Abuja, Ikeja, and Victoria Island will be closed on Friday, February 24, and Monday, February 27.

“No VAC appointments will be booked on these days, and customers will not be able to access the VAC to collect documents/passports.

“Customers have the option to purchase the Keep my Passport and Courier return services in advance of the VAC closure in order to retain their passport during the period of closure.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja