Visa ban threat is noise — ICC can prosecute electoral offenders, says Bolaji Akinyemi


Bolaji Akinyemi, former minister of external affairs, says Nigerians can approach the international criminal court (ICC) to prosecute electoral offenders in the country.

Speaking in an interview with Arise TV on Friday, Akinyemi described the promise of visa sanctions on electoral offenders by the governments of the US and UK as “all noise that will not lead anywhere”.

There have been criticisms against the just concluded elections in the country. Stakeholders, including foreign observers, said the elections fell short of expectations and were fraught with irregularities.

Prior to the election, the UK and US governments promised to impose visa sanctions on people who try to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process.

On Tuesday, the British high commission in Nigeria said it was collating relevant information about some Nigerians who engaged in anti-democratic actions during the elections.

The commission said it was concerned by the use of inflammatory ethno-religious language by some political figures.

However, Akinyemi said the visa ban threats have never been applied and are ineffective.

“Every time we have an election, both the UK and the US raise this prospect of sanctions against those who they suspect are guilty of malfeasance and seeking to sabotage the democratic process. But then, nothing ever happens,” Akinyemi said.


“I cannot remember any person being sanctioned in terms of visa denial. We do hear from time to time names bandied around but we have never seen these sanctions really applied. That is why I just think this is all noise that will not lead anywhere.


“In terms of Nigeria sanctioning these people. There are laws in our criminal code that are against hooliganism and breach of peace.


 “You cannot tell me that unless it is election time, you can break somebody’s head and you will not be charged to court? That is assault. We should use our criminal code to prosecute those who have done bodily arms to other people.


“The ICC is there for dealing with offences that border on hate crimes and sponsoring election [violence] and agitation against the group, not just the individual.


“It has been used in Cote D’Ivoire and Kenya. So we should be careful that if we do not prosecute these people and US and UK do not activate their visa sanction, the ICC is there. And there is sufficient evidence on paper that can activate that.”

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