The United Kingdom (UK) says it is closely watching any political party, security officer or individual who acts violently or incites people via social media in the 2023 Nigerian general election.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing made this claim when leading a team to a meeting with members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ms Laing said the 2023 election is very important to Africa and the world so the spotlight would be on Nigeria and the UK would be watching closely.
He said the UK was genuinely concerned by recent events, including 52 issues related to election violence in 22 states, including an attack on the PDP convoy in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
“That is a real concern and we want to share our views on what you can do as a political party to ensure that the elections are as peaceful as possible.
“When people feel intimidated, they can’t go out and vote. The election itself will not be credible, so violence is a major concern.
“On the issue of election violence, you can make a statement on the last election, and we also have positive support as we have sanctions in the form of our Visa program.
“We will also be attentive to any individual who acts violently or incites people through social networks; we have the ability to use our visas as a sanction by removing people’s rights to visit the UK.
“We will be watching closely, this applies to all political parties, not just parties, but also security officials and anyone who may be in that position.
“The important thing is to get the votes, regardless of the political party you are, the election will be credible, if the vote is high. It was low last time, around 35 percent,” Laing said.
He said the UK government did not support any political party, but was interested in allowing Nigerians to decide who would lead them at government level.
Ms. Laing said that it was in this spirit that the UK delegation had met with all stakeholders, including INEC, civil society organizations and political parties, to hold credible and peaceful elections.
He praised the young Nigerians for coming out to register during registration and expressed the hope that they would turn out to vote on Election Day.
In his remarks, PDP National Secretary Samuel Anyanwu expressed optimism that the PDP would return to power in 2023, saying that Nigerians are waiting for the PDP.
Anyanwu said the PDP believed that with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) introduced by INEC, the 2023 general election would not be business as usual.
“That is why we continue to pray that INEC will keep what it has promised to Nigerians and when that is done, we will find that our party is in full swing.”
Mr. Anyanwu, while expressing the PDP’s commitment to a peaceful and issue-based campaign, denounced the recent attacks on PDP demonstrations in Kaduna and Borno states.