Atiku leaves for London after securing US visa


The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (MR. Atiku Abubakar has finally been issued a visa to travel to the United States.

It was gathered that Abubakar had appeared for an interview at the US Embassy in Abuja last Tuesday and that those who are billed to go on the trip with him would use the opportunity to address some US congress caucuses, as well as a high ranking official in the Donald Trump administration.

It was learnt that Atiku had left for London after getting the visa and that no date had been fixed for the US trip,

In a tweet on Saturday evening, his spokesman, Paul Ibe, said the presidential candidate travelled to the UK and is back in the country, but was silent on the issuance of US visa.

It was gathered that the former president Olusegun Obasanjo played a “critical” role in getting the American government to issue the visa to his former deputy with whom he was estranged for almost 15 years.

This marks another chapter in the controversy that has rocked the former vice-president for over a decade.

Atiku, who is widely travelled, has not been to the US in 13 years, intially fueling speculations that he might be avoiding possible arrest or prosecution.

His political opponents had used his absence from the US not just to taunt but to discredit him.

His row with the US authorities began after the FBI investigated a bribery scandal involving William Jefferson, former US congressman, in 2004.

Atiku was accused of demanding a bribe of $500,000 to facilitate the award of contracts to two American telecommunication firms in Nigeria.

The FBI had searched his residence in the posh neighbourhood of Potomac, Maryland, but no money was found.

The investigators had videotaped Jefferson, who was the congressman representing Louisiana, receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills which he claimed was meant for Atiku, but the former vice-president has consistently denied the allegation.

Despite Atiku’s claim to innocence, the controversy raged.

It would be recalled that the minister of information and culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed had last Thursday told the US to be cautious in granting a visa to the Abubakar in order not to create the impression of endorsing him for the 2019 election.

He said the federal government was not unaware of the move by the PDP flag bearer to lobby the U.S. to lift the visa ban imposed on him.

He said while the US has the prerogative to decide who it allows entry into its territory, it should be mindful of the timing in order not to create the impression that one candidate was preferred to the other.

“Our position is that if the former vice president already has a US visa, we have no problem about it. What we warn the US government is not to give the impression that it is endorsing one particular candidate over the other. That is what is going to happen, if for instance the former vice president is granted a visa.

“We are not unaware; I think it is also in the public domain, that Atiku has engaged the service of some lobbyists in the US to facilitate the issuance of visa for him.

“As you all will be aware, for more than 12 years there has been a congressional bi-partisan investigation of corruption against certain individuals which had made it difficult for the former vice president to secure a US visa,” said Mohammed.

With TheCable report




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