22 December 2018
Rep. Christopher Smith, from New Jersey and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, issued the following statement with regard to presidential and national assembly elections to be held in Nigeria on February 16, 2019, and ongoing violence largely attributable to Fulani extremists:
“I am very concerned by the current trajectory in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy and economy, and President Muhamadu Buhari’s apparent crackdown on non-violent protests and harassment of opposition leaders, such as freezing the assets of opposition vice presidential candidate Peter Obi and the raiding of the home of two sons of opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar. I call upon the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that elections will be free and fair, and for the Commission to remain impartial. I further call upon President Buhari to use his authority to end the violence perpetrated by Fulani extremists, particularly in the Middle Belt region, and question why he has failed to do so. I also urge the Trump Administration to monitor the evolving situation closely, and not to hesitate to use its sanctioning authority to hold accountable any officials who subvert the electoral process or foment violence against citizens.”
Smith chaired a hearing on Nigeria on December 13, 2018, entitled “Nigeria at a Crossroads: The Upcoming Election.” He has repeatedly called attention to extremist violence and has called upon President Buhari to use his authority to put a stop to it.