UK commends improved Governorship, State assembly elections in Nigeria

Key highlight

  • The UK government acknowledged improvement by INEC during the Governorship and State Assembly elections with better performance by BVAS and IReV.
  • It expressed concern over the increased violence, vote-buying, voter intimidation and suppression which marred the March 18 elections which were also reported by other observer missions.
  • The Uk government is also compiling a list of electoral offenders for sanctions or visa ban


The UK Government has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its efforts in the conduct of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly polls saying that they observed improvements in election logistics.

This is coming barely 24 hours after the United States Government also threatened to impose sanctions or visa restrictions on undemocratic elements.

This was made known in a statement issued by the British High Commission to Nigeria on Wednesday, March 23, 2023, where it noted that more polling units opened on time.

The British Government said that there was greater evidence of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the Result Viewing Portal (IREV) working well with results uploaded in real-time from polling units and collation centres as against what happened during the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

What the UK Government is saying

The statement from the British High Commission in Nigeria partly reads,

  • The British High Commission observed the gubernatorial elections on 18 March, sending teams to Benue, Enugu, Kano, Lagos, Oyo and Rivers States.
  • “We observed improvements in election logistics by INEC during the gubernatorial elections, particularly when compared to the Presidential elections. More polling units opened on time, there was greater evidence of BVAS and IREV working and results were uploaded in real-time from polling units and collation centres. These are positive markers to build on for future elections.”

Expresses concern over electoral violence, vote buying, others

It expressed concern over the increased violence, vote-buying, voter intimidation and suppression which marred the March 18 elections.

  • It stated, “However, there were notable points of concern. Members of our observation mission personally observed violence, and voter suppression in numerous voting locations. We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote buying and voter intimidation, the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers.
  • “In addition, we observed incidents of harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech and a free press is crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.
  • “The UK is concerned by the use of inflammatory ethnoreligious language by some public and political figures. We call on all leaders not just to distance themselves from this kind of language, but to prevent those who speak on their behalf from doing so in this way.
  • “It is a testament to their commitment to democracy that many Nigerians were prepared to vote despite being faced with intimidation and hostility.”

UK compiling a list of electoral offenders for a visa ban

The High Commission also said that the UK government is collating relevant information to take action against some individuals who engaged in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours in the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections.

The UK government is threatening to impose sanctions on those individuals or 0revent them from obtaining UK visas.

  • It stated, “The UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell MP, said on 21 February, that the UK is prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours, and action could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime. We can confirm that we are collating relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals.
  • “We urge any party or individual who wishes to challenge the process or outcome of the elections to do so peacefully and through the appropriate legal channels. We will be observing the course of legal challenges made.
  • “The 2023 elections are not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians, but to Africa and the world as a whole. As a long-term partner, the UK is committed to strengthening the ties between our countries and peoples, including by supporting democratic development.”