On April 2, 2023, a Twitter user claimed that the United States of America (USA) slammed a visa ban on Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nyesom Wike the governor of Rivers state, and several others allegedly involved in electoral malpractices in the just concluded general elections.
“USA slams visa ban on INEC Chairman, Wike and several hundreds of others following their alleged infamous role in the recently conducted general elections in Nigeria,” the post read.
“The visa ban list, which also includes their wives, children, and relatives, will be submitted to the White House, US Congress, and State Department on April 3, 2023, for immediate action.”
The post had garnered over 330,000 views as of the time of this report.
The Twitter thread also contained a link to a news article published on an online news website called The Conclave.
The news article was titled “2023: US slams visa ban on INEC chair, other complicit poll participants” and was published on March 31, 2023.
The article had a large list of various Nigerian political figures who allegedly got a visa ban.
Reactions are still trailing the just-concluded 2023 general elections, which were marred by violence, manipulation, and voters’ suppression in some parts of the country.
Some aggrieved individuals on social media are urging the international community, including the US and the UK, to impose visa bans on the alleged perpetrators of electoral irregularities.
CDD Election War Room found the claim to be false.
Although over 267,000 Nigerians have signed a petition on change.org calling on the US, the EU, and the UK to place a visa restriction on the transport union leader, Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo, Nyesom Wike among others, there has been no active response from these countries.
We found that according to section 222 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the US does not make public the record of those whose visas were denied.
“The records of the Department of State and of diplomatic and consular offices of the United States pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States shall be considered confidential,” the act reads.
Such records “shall be used only for the formulation, amendment, administration, or enforcement of the immigration, nationality, and other laws of the United States”.
This sort of misinformation is not new to Nigeria’s electoral landscape; in 2019, after the election, a similar list was making the rounds alongside claims that the politicians named had been banned from entering the US.
The US Embassy in Abuja told journalists at the time, that “under U.S. law, individual visa records are confidential, and we cannot provide details as to who is or will be affected.”
The claim that the US has placed a visa ban on political figures is false. CDD Election War Room found that it is against the laws of the US to publish information on individual visa refusal. US Embassy in Nigeria has previously debunked such a claim.