After much ado about Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s avoidance of American trip over the years, the former Vice President of Nigeria and current presidential aspirant is set to visit the United States (U.S.), this week, in a bid to silence his political opponents.
For years, political opponents have dared Atiku to visit the U.S. where they claimed that law enforcement agents are waiting to arrest him over alleged money laundering and other financial crimes.
NewsmakersNG’s Managing Editor in Atlanta Georgia, Mrs Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu, has however sent a report that preparations are in top gear by various groups and organisations to receive Atiku in the American city this week.
There is no known indictment filed against Atiku in any U.S. court, eight years after a Senate Report in the country detailed money laundering activities against him, including being a recipient of a bribe by Siemens.
The U.S. Senate Permanent sub-committee on Investigations was chaired by Senator Carl Levin.
But U.S. diplomats in Nigeria have said nothing negative about Atiku’s status.
Atiku was not the only foreign Politically Exposed Person (PEP) probed by the committee. Others on the list included Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, now the 48-year-old son of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea, late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo and three Angolan PEP accounts, involving an Angolan arms dealer, an Angolan government official, and a small Angolan private bank.
The committee submitted its report on February 4, 2010; three years after Atiku had left office.
The report allegedly revealed violations of U.S. laws by Atiku and his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas. It also included revelations about Siemens bribe paid into one of the accounts.
After being taunted for years, Atiku told the Publisher of The Boss Newspapers, Mr Dele Momodu in an interview last December, that he was unable to visit the U.S. because the embassy denied him visa.
The question came up again in a BBC Hausa Service interview in April.
Atiku was asked how he intended to be Nigeria’s president without visiting the U.S.
He told the interviewers that it is not a constitutional provision that one must visit the United States of America before becoming the President of Nigeria.
Atiku, who was Vice President to former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007, had confirmed that he was denied a U.S. visa when he wanted to travel to that country.
He said that the embassy had told him that his application for visa was denied because it was passing through administrative process.
He also spoke about a mansion linked to him in the U.S., which was allegedly seized and auctioned by the American government.
He said that the house belonged to his wife, Jennifer, adding: “All my wives own houses, and that particular house is not mine. It belonged to one of my wives. She sold the house and it was never auctioned as it was reported.”
The luxury mansion is in the neighborhood of Potomac, Maryland, United States.
The property came into the limelight in 2005, when it was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in connection with a bribery scandal involving a former U.S. Congressman, William Jefferson.
Reports say the seven-bedroom cream-colored single family brick house on 9731 Sorrel Ave, Potomac, Maryland, was originally listed for $3.25 million on Zillow and other online real estate websites on January 25, 2018. It was eventually sold for a pending offer of $2.95 million on February 26, 2018 after an online auction.
Atiku had also caused controversy, when he said that President Muhammadu Buhari was unable to enter the U.S., as well, for 15 years due to ‘religious considerations’.
When Dele Momodu asked him what offence he committed that made him to “run away from the US”, he replied: “It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. 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 rather, “they’ve only said my application is going through administrative process”.
He added, “This is not peculiar to me. For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of religious considerations.”
Atiku had also cited the case of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who he said was also unable to enter the US “for years”.
“Today, he (Modi) is being treated to red carpet treatment in America. I fly to different parts of the world, including Europe, if America wanted me, it would be so easy for them to reach out to their allies,” he said.
When contacted, the coordinator, Atiku Campaign Organisation (ACO), Otunba Gbenga Daniel said that plans on the visit had not been concluded because Atiku went on Lesser Hajj – Umrah.