The UK, EU, Australia, and INEC issue security alerts and advise against traveling to Nigeria.

The general election scheduled for 2023 may not take place in some areas of the country because of the widespread insecurity, according to the European Union (EU), which also noted that the “security atmosphere” was extremely unfriendly.
In the most recent security recommendations released on Thursday, the United Kingdom and Australia also advised their people to stay away from visiting Nigeria.

According to The Site News, in October of last year, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Bulgaria had all issued terror advisories, telling their residents in Nigeria to stay away from hotels, malls, and other key sites that might be used as a target by terrorists.

But the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government had dismissed the advisories, describing them as false, and assured Nigerians to go about their lawful business as the country was safe and secure.

But in a fresh travel advisory released on Thursday, the government of Australia asked its citizens to reconsider or outrightly abandon their plans to visit Nigeria.

In a statement, the Australian government said: “Nigeria is scheduled to hold national and state elections between 25 February and 11 March. The risk of election-related violence is high. You should avoid all political gatherings and election-related sites in the lead-up to, during, and after this period.

“Offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission across the country have already been targeted and should be avoided. Politically motivated murders and kidnappings have occurred, and the threat of further incidents remains high.”

For those planning to visit, the government, through the statement, also asked its citizens to reconsider their need to travel to Nigeria.

“We have reviewed our travel advice for Nigeria and now advise reconsider your need to travel to Abuja,” the statement added.

The UK government also warned that protests might break out during the election, adding that these protests could turn violent.

The UK government said, “Nationwide elections will take place in Nigeria in February 2023, and there is a heightened risk of protests during this period.

“Political rallies, protests, and violent demonstrations can occur with little notice throughout the country. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-Western demonstrations.”

Threat To Election Revealed
Also speaking on Thursday, the European Union warned that Nigeria’s security challenges might significantly threaten the forthcoming general elections if not addressed.

The Team Leader, EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria phase two programme, Rudolf Elbling, expressed concern about the workability of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in all parts of the country, especially in the rural areas.

He stated that the elections have the potential to create unrest and instability for a country like Nigeria, warning that such a crisis would affect the whole of West Africa.

Elbing said: “For a country like Nigeria, elections always have the potential of creating unrest and instability for a country the size of Nigeria, and that is a very dangerous thing not only for Nigeria and Nigerians, but for the whole region.

‘’So, the insecurity issue for the last one or two years is of concern for everybody. It’s a concern for every Nigerian because life has changed. You cannot move around as you could; so there is a huge potential for this to impact on the elections.”

The EU official warned that insecurity might prevent INEC from conducting elections in all parts of the country.

He stated, ‘’This would create a lot of legal implications for the entire process that might disrupt the process. There are a lot of potential legal implications, which subsequently would have a lot of political implication and which would have a lot of potential to disrupt the poll, but of course, you know, logistics is also and always an issue.

“And I’m afraid that the insecurity, again, will add to this problem and complicate issues more. Also, will the election technology hold up? The BVAS is a very promising item, but will it be working everywhere?

“We also have the INEC Results Viewing Portal; all these kinds of things are what we are really looking forward to even as they worked very well in the Ekiti and Osun elections. But again, the security climate, the political climate, which is extremely hostile; how will it affect the acceptance and credibility of elections.”

We Won’t Disappoint – INEC
Reacting to the concerns, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, disclosed that security agencies had assured the commission that elections would be held in all parts of Nigeria.

He assured that the INEC chairman would not disappoint Nigerians.

Nigeria Is Safe
On its part, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) dismissed the concerns of the European nations.

In a telephone chat with The PUNCH, the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the country is safe, even for the elections.

He added that it wasn’t the first time foreign countries would issue such alerts to their citizens.

“Since this is a foreign relation matter, I wouldn’t like to comment on it. However, Nigeria is safe, and this isn’t the first time foreign countries are giving such alerts to their citizens,” the police spokesman said.

About Izuchukwu E.N

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