Tension In Aso Rock, As America Releases Powerful Statement

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Following the conclusion of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the United States government, has, on Thursday, released a statement expressing its disappointment with the events that unfolded during the electoral process.

In a statement by the US Government in Abuja, some of the occurrences that marred the electoral process includes: low voter turnout, credible reports of voter intimidation, vote-buying, interference by security forces, violence in some locations, Punch reports. They then added that they would continue to monitor the events of the supplementary elections that is still in progress and said they were in support of a democratic process where the results will reflect the will of Nigerians.

Part of the statement read:

“As long-time friends of Nigeria, we continue to follow closely the still ongoing elections. We do not have a preferred party or Candidate. As noted by many Observer groups in their preliminary reports, we too were disappointed by the low voter turnout, as well as credible reports of voter intimidation, vote-buying, interference by Security Forces, and violence in some locations. As the 2019 electoral cycle comes to an end, we urge all stakeholders to work towards a free, fair, credible, transparent, and peaceful process, especially for the many Nigerians across the country who again will go to polls on Saturday.

The Mission then went on to warn all stakeholders involved in the elections to ensure that the process was free, fair, credible and peaceful across the states where the supplementary elections will take place. They said, “We are saddened by those acts of violence, and extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives, including those who worked for the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Security Services. We look to Nigeria as an important leader on the African continent. As a democratic partner of Nigeria, the United States remains committed to working together to achieve our mutual goals of peace and prosperity for the citizens of both our countries.”

Not long after the statement by the United States, the chief electoral body in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), responded to them. According to Punch, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, thanked the United States for their support during the elections and said there was no country in the world that was capable of holding a perfect election.

He went on to add that the observations made by the US Mission were not enough to discredit the integrity of the elections and said the commission had learnt lessons from the process and would improve upon future elections.

He said, “As one of our important partners, the Independent National Electoral Commission appreciates the United States’ interest and support for Nigeria’s electoral process. However, there is no country in the world where general elections are perfect from the beginning to the end.

“In our reckoning, coupled with various reports released by local and international observers so far, the 2019 general elections were a success, but by no means perfect. There are lessons to be learnt and there is room for improvement. The commission will continue to do its best to deliver credible elections with the hope that the major players will appreciate the importance of playing by the rules and ultimately accept that no political office is worth the precious life of any human being. All is vanity.”

Another Nigerian parastatal to react to a report credited to the United States is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Though it is not related to the 2019 elections, the United States Department of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, on March 17, 2019, published a report titled: “Nigeria: Massive, Pervasive Corruption At All Levels of Govt.” and the EFCC has labeled the report as false and misleading.

The US Report had claimed that Nigeria’s anti-corruption Agencies are not doing enough to stop corruption and that they are instead driven by a climate of impunity and selective prosecution.

A claim the EFCC has now dismissed even as it pointed out the progress made in convictions, looted assets recovery and cash and property forfeiture to the government. All of which has earned it accolades from other nations of the world.

Part of the strongly worded statement reads: “Indeed, the US Report’s portrayal of the work of the EFCC, which is replete with inaccurate information, is worrisome, considering the close working relationship between the Commission and some US entities. Agencies of the US Government, especially the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, US Securities and Exchange Commission, Post and Telecommunications Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, FinCEN, have very strong collaboration with the EFCC, in the delicate task of tracing and seizing stolen assets, but stashed abroad by rogue Nigerian Officials.

“These US Agencies are familiar with the determination and passion, with which the Commission is going about the fight against corruption. From the foregoing, it is clear that the report authored by the American Agency, has done a great disservice to the work of the EFCC in particular, and the fight against corruption under the leadership of President Buhari, an administration that is globally acknowledged for the enormous political will it has brought to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

“We are conscious of our past, when previous government Officials were involvedin corrupt practices with impunity, but that history is being re-written by this government and the Commission. The rest of Africa appreciates the administration’s work in terms of fighting corruption in Nigeria, which was the impetus behind the designation of President Buhari as the Anti-Corruption Champion, early last year, by the African Union, AU. In that capacity, President Buhari is saddled with the responsibility of leading the rest of Africa out of the corruption quagmire.

“At the level of the EFCC, the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, attained the Leadership of the Heads of Anti- Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa, HACACA, in May 2018. This was based on his antecedents and acknowledged track records in the fight against corruption. There can be no greater validation of the profound impact of the fight against corruption in Nigeria, in the last four years, than these milestone achievements. But for those who cannot see any good in what Nigeria is doing, it is better to leave the country alone, than distract it with bogus reports.”