Atiku at USIP
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2019 Election: Amidst ‘Vote-Rigging’ Allegations, US Threatens to Blacklist, Sanction Nigerian Officials

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Nigeria opposition leader Abubakar Atiku has met with top U.S. government officials in Washington to seek support ahead of the country’s presidential election in February.

The 72-year-old, who served as vice-president from 1999 to 2007,  said in a meeting that “Without broad international support, it is impossible to conduct the upcoming elections [in Nigeria] in a more or less democratic, clean fashion.”

“It is this kind of international support that our delegation is seeking in the United States, in the United Kingdom, and in Europe, a member of the delegation added.

A member of the delegation revealed: ” We came to Washington and met with key representatives of the U.S. administration and Congress in order to familiarize them with our declaration, our program, our intentions, and to receive their comments.”

” I hoped that our initiatives would be supported here, and that is exactly what happened,” he added.

“It was promised that they would support not us, but rather, would support the development of democracy and the chance for equal conditions for elections,”  he told Per Second News.

In an unprecedented warning, a member of the United States Congress said on Friday that it could blacklist individuals who commits serious irregularities during Nigeria’s election process.

“We reiterate that the results of investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for any irregularities must be transparent and public in order for the Nigerian people to have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.

In an extraordinary warning at a crucial moment in Nigeria’s election, members of Congress who met with Atiku have alleged that Nigerian politicians may be deliberately planning to interfere in the vote-counting process in an attempt to rig the Presidential election.

The U.S. has repeatedly criticized disputed elections held in Nigeria in the past. But it is the first time that officials in Capitol Hill are openly threatening to sanction government, local election officials accused of vote rigging.

The Trump administration is yet to make any public statement in regards to the Elections in Nigeria. U.S.

National Security Adviser John Bolton announced a new U.S. Africa strategy weeks ago. Bolton attacked Beijing for its “predatory” practices in Africa and vowed a determined response contained in the new policy.

” U.S. and international stakeholders need to step up their game. At the minimum, there is a proven playbook to draw on, said Mr. Judd Devermont, a former Central Intelligence Agency’s senior political analyst on sub-Saharan Africa.

” During the last election in 2015, for instance, U.S. government and other stakeholders feared a repeat of the violence and ballot-rigging that tainted elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011. Secretary Kerry traveled to Nigeria, and President Obama issued a video message calling for free, fair, and peaceful elections. U.S. officials went as far as threatening visa bans. These efforts contributed to the first democratic transition between one party to another in Nigerian history.”

US elections observers in September 2018  after the Osun gubernatorial election said they witnessed what appeared to be incidents of voter intimidation and interference in the electoral process.

US Consul General, John Bray was part of a diplomatic mission that observed voting at polling stations in the state.

“We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and heard reports of harassment of party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.” Bray added.
“We are very concerned by these reports he said at the time.

While many in Nigeria believed Atiku would be arrested in connection with the William Jefferson case, the PDP candidate was issued an A visa with a protected status issued only at the approval of the Diplomatic Liaison Division in Washington, Per Second News gathered.

The Jefferson’s case was made famous by the $90,000 in what prosecutors said was bribe money that the FBI found stuffed into his freezer and a legal battle over the raid of his Washington office, a battle that reached the highest levels of the U.S. government. He was convicted in August in U.S. District Court in Alexandria of 11 counts that included bribery, racketeering and money laundering. Jurors acquitted Jefferson of five counts.
Meanwhile, the U.S Court has set Jefferson free and restored his license as a lawyer and about to award him a lump sum as compensation in a civil matter he filed.

U.S District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who had presided over Jefferson’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia, threw out of seven of the 10 remaining convictions and the government dismissed another charge, leaving Jefferson guilty of two counts.

Jefferson was released from prison on Oct. 5. 2018. He had served five years and five months.

The criminal case is over, and if Jefferson has his way, the civil case would be resolved in his favor. He says every conviction related to iGate is now erased.

 

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