Atiku finally gets US visa, jets out of Nigeria

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has finally been issued a visa to the United States, TheCable  report.

TheCable confirmed that the former vice-president has left Nigeria for the UK, where he will spend some time.

There is yet no date fixed for his US trip, TheCable understands.

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.

TheCable understands that 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 is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not,” he said.

“I’m not running away from America. I applied but wasn’t issued a visa.”

He said the US did not categorically deny him visa.

“They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process,” he said.

On Thursday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had warned the US to be cautious in granting visa to the main opponent of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

 

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