Kogi 2019 poll: Yahaya Bello protests US Visa ban

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The Kogi State Government has protested the recent Visa ban imposed by the United States on politicians who allegedly rigged the November 2019 election in the state.

Some unidentified individuals were on Monday slammed a visa restriction by the United States over electoral infractions witnesses during the Kogi and Bayelsa 2019 polls.

Following the revelation, there were speculations that Governor Yahaya Bello, who won the contested election was among the persons affected by the ban.

Reacting in a letter signed by Secretary to the Government of Kogi State, Folashade Ayoade, the state governor, Yahaya Bello, said the US did not give room for fair hearing before reaching a conclusion.

He said, “For the most part, we concede that elections in Nigeria are complex affairs which will continue to require improvements for the foreseeable future. The 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Election was also not without its challenges. However, it is also crystal clear from critical and composite analyses of the records (official, media, observers, etc) of the November 16, 2020 polls that regrettable incidents were limited to a few polling units, while the overwhelmingly larger portions of the ballot were free, fair and credible.”

“Our concern right now is not the prerogative of the United States of America to impose entry restrictions on anyone, for any or no reason at all, which prerogative remains unfettered, but the room for atrocious misinformation which the timing of your Press Statement and the mention of the Kogi elections therein has created in our state.

“For the February and March 2019 General elections, your advisory came out in July 2019, long before the Supreme Court delivered her judgments in the petitions against those elections, including challenges to President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection. The presumption is that in spite of your intervention, the Supreme Court still discovered no merit in the petitions and dismissed them accordingly.

“In our case, ie, Kogi State, you made the tactical decision to release the update shortly after the Supreme Court delivered judgments in the 4 petitions which made it before her. Amongst a plethora of well-reasoned pronouncements the Apex Court dismissed the said petitions for failing to prove their allegations and for having no ‘scintilla of merit’. The inference from your timing is that the judgment is somehow tainted and did not meet the justice of the case, thereby casting aspersions, not only on the Nigerian Judiciary, but on the second term mandate freely bestowed on His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello by the good people of Kogi State.

“We find this unacceptable, and we protest your presumption. The least you could have done, if indeed this is about democracy and human rights as claimed is create room, no matter how slim, for fair hearing. As it is now, partisan speculations as to who is indicted, who is not and for what, has become cudgels, furiously swung in the media space by all comers. Your action has therefore added abundant grist to the rumour mills and electrified the merchants of fake news”.

“We believe that if the United States of America, despite her commanding heights and much longer experience as the acclaimed Bastion of Democracy in the world, is still locked in a fight to defend the integrity of her own electoral processes to this very day, then she ought to accord greater empathy, more civility and much less disruption, to nascent democracies”, the letter further noted.




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