Did Antony Blinken name Peter Obi, Wike, Keyamo, others in US visa ban announcement?

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FOLLOWING the United States’ announcement of visa restrictions on Nigerians allegedly involved in undermining the democratic process during the just-concluded Nigeria’s 2023 general election, claims that names of some prominent Nigerians who made the list have surfaced online.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced the visa restriction on May 15, 2023 via a tweet posted on his official Twitter page: @SecBlinken.

Following the announcement, multiple social media users in Nigeria have posted names of some prominent Nigerians online who are allegedly affected by the visa ban.

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A Twitter user, Prince Adeshina, with the username, @RealAdeshina shared the claim (now archived here) on Tuesday, May 16,  with a caption that read:

Breaking: US Visa Restrictions, Peter Obi, Aisha Yiesufu, Fals others made the list.”

The tweet has since generated more than 230,000 views and has been liked by over 800 tweeps.

Similarly, another tweep @iamjohnreuben posted the claim using a different caption that reads:

US has imposed Visa Restrictions on Nyesom Wike& other individuals who undermined the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections.”

A Facebook user, Victor Udoh has also posted the claim alongside a purported list of those restricted.

You people think we are joking this time.  Mr Yakubu, Wike, Bayo Onanuga, MC Oluomo amd Festus Keyamo made the US visa ban list. America no dey disappoint, very extensive.”

 

CLAIM

Peter Obi, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Nyesom Wike, Festus Keyamo, Aisha Yesufu and others are among Nigerians on the US visa ban list.

Screenshot of one of the social media posts showing names of some Nigerians on the alleged US visa ban list.

THE FINDINGS

Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is UNPROVEN.

Blinken’s statement announcing the visa restriction reads: “We have imposed visa restrictions on specific individuals who undermined the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections. We remain committed to supporting Nigerian aspirations to strengthen democracy and rule of law.”

Checks by The FactCheckHub revealed that at no time did the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated names of Nigerians included in the visa restriction.

The FactCheckHub reached out to the US embassy in Abuja via email for verification.

In response to The FactCheckHub’s inquiry, a Senior Public Affairs Specialist at the US embassy, Aisha Gambari said, “Under U.S law, individual visa records are confidential. We can not provide details on who is affected.”

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Similarly, in a  press statement released on the official website of the United States Government, on Monday, May 15, the US announced that steps have been taken to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle.

However, a list of names of those affected by the visa restriction was not stated on the website.

Nigeria’s 2023 general election has been widely criticized and reactions are still trailing the outcome of the election which was marred by violence and irregularities, The ICIR reported.

The US Government had, earlier in January 2023, announced that those who attempt to undermine the electoral process risk visa ban.

It will be recalled that the United States had in 2019 imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians deemed to have played nefarious roles in undermining the integrity of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections. However, the identities of those affected were not disclosed.

Further checks show that Section 222 (f) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act provides that the records of the Department of States and of diplomatic and consular offices of the United States pertaining to the issuance and refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States shall be considered confidential and such records may be made available to a court if the information is needed.

 

THE VERDICT

The claim that Peter Obi, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Nyesom Wike, Festus Keyamo, Aisha Yesufu and others are among Nigerians on the US visa ban list is UNPROVEN; findings show that the United States traditionally does not disclose names of people placed on visa restriction as the US immigration law shields them from the disclosure of their visa-related information.

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