Atiku 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 exclusively reports.
Citing a family source, the report said the former vice-president has left Nigeria for the UK, where he will spend some time before flying to the US.
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, according to the report.
The trip 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, initially fuelling 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.
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.
Asked to comment on Atiku’s visa status on Friday, Rusell Brooks, spokesman of the US consulate in Lagos, had said issuance of visa to Nigerians irrespective of their status is strictly a confidential matter.
He said the US government would not discuss such confidentiality in public.
More to come…
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