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No evidence US has placed visa ban on chair of Nigeria’s electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu, governor Nyesom Wike or others

IN SHORT: Rumours abound following Nigeria’s 2023 general elections and criticism of the way it was conducted. But there’s no evidence that a long list of high-profile Nigerians, including the chair of the electoral commission, have been placed on a visa-ban list by the US.

A claim is circulating on Facebook in Nigeria that the US has placed a visa ban on the chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), Mahmood Yakubu, the governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, and former minister of aviation, Femi Fani Kayode.

The post claims former governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, and the chairperson of the Lagos Parks And Garages Management Committee,  Musilu Akinsanya, also known as MC Oluomo, were also on the visa ban list.

“INEC Chairman, Alhaji Mahmood Yakubu, Wike, MC Oluomo, FFK, Fayose, Others make US Visa ban list!” the post reads.

Inec is responsible for conducting elections in Nigeria.

The commission’s chair has been criticised for the conduct of the general elections held in February and March 2023. Several allegations have also been made against Inec.

President-elect Bola Tinubu’s victory is being challenged at the election tribunal by his major rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi.

The claim implies that Yakubu and the others listed are on the US visa ban list over the conduct of the election.

The same claim appeared on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But is it true? We checked.


No evidence of claim

In January 2023 the US announced a visa ban on individuals who they said were complicit in “undermining” recent elections in Nigeria.

But this announcement was made before the 2023 general election and no specific names were mentioned.

US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, made another announcement on his official Twitter account on  15 May 2023. He said that the US had also “imposed visa restrictions on specific individuals who undermined the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections”.

But Blinken didn’t mention the individuals.

Africa Check reached out to Temitayo Famutimi, information specialist at the US consulate general in Nigeria, to confirm whether the Inec chair and others were on the visa ban list. At the time of publishing we had not yet received a response but will update this report if we do.

A search through the visa sections of the US government website returned no evidence of the claim.

There have also been no reports in the Nigerian media that the US has imposed a visa ban on the Inec chairperson. We would expect this to have been reported on, were the claim true.

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