Source Disclose That Atiku May Soon Leave For The US
Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has finally reportedly been issued a visa to the United States.
There has been talks that he was banned from visiting the United states, Naija Newsearlier reported, with oppositions using his absence from the US not just to taunt but to discredit him.
A family source however disclosed on Saturday that the Presidential candidate has left Nigeria for the UK, where he will spend some time.
Though there is no fixed date for Atiku’s trip to US, His spokesperson, Paul Ibe on Saturday evening, through a tweet said, the presidential candidate travelled to the UK and is back in the country, but was silent on the issuance of US visit.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly, 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, Naija News learnt.
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, initially fueling speculations that he might be avoiding possible arrest or prosecution.
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.
But the former vice-president has consistently denied the allegation.
Despite Atiku’s claim to innocence, the controversy raged.
Two months before he declared interest in the 2019 presidential race, Atiku granted an interview to Dele Mommodu, celebrity journalist, where he clarified his absence from the US.
“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, as published by Naija News,had warned the US to be cautious in granting visa to Atiku so as not to paint a picture of supporting any presidential candidate ahead of the 2019 elections.
Asked to comment on Atiku’s visa status on Friday, Rusell Brooks, public affairs officer 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.
Meanwhile some, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had alleged that Brian Ballard, publicist of US President Donald Trump, was working towards relaxing the visa “ban” on Atiku.