By Musa Adamu
Despite his recent visit to the United States of America (USA) without being arrested, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, still has serious case to answer in that country, the APC Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team (WYPCaT) has said.
The team said in a statement by the Head of its Directorate of Strategic Planning, Prof Ussiju Al-Mustapha Medaner, in Abuja on yesterday that Atiku’s corruption allegations as enumerated by the US Senate Committee were still not wiped off.
The campaign team said Atiku’s first visit to the US in 12 years was made possible because the United States’ government had to give him some waiver in order not to be seen to be interfering in Nigeria’s democratic process.
Besides, the campaign team said against all known norms for international travels by an individual of Atiku’s status as a former vice president, the Nigerian Embassy in the US was kept in the dark about the trip and that even during the visit, journalists were completely kept out of all the socalled meetings Atiku held.
It said even the allegation made by former president Goodluck Jonathan that the US government under its former president Barack Obama interfered in the 2015 elections alone would make the current US Government officials to be wary of Nigeria’s polls.
It said: ”There has been a challenge for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar which had been insurmountable for the last 12 years until a few days ago: It was thought to be nigh impossible for him to have accomplished that with the allegations of corruption against his person in the United States which had even led to the incarceration of one of his associates Congressman Williams Jefferson from Louisiana, and civil charges settled by a German company Siemens AG.
“Nigerians, and indeed, the world, were caught agape at how he was able to get through with the stunt considering the 328-page report by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in conjunction with Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs based on the hearing of February 4th, 2010 which indicted Atiku Abubakar with his fourth wife Jennifer Douglas.
“The report is still on the website of the United States Senate (www.hsgac.senate.gov) where a search of Atiku’s name (Atiku Abubakar) on the webpage brings up all links with the Atiku case files –what the US Senate has about him. The US Senate has not had a sitting to review and rescind its stand and resolution on the case of Atiku Abubakar yet, and to exonerate others who had been charged and/or convicted in relation to the Atiku case; refund monies paid as fine to the Government of the US, and to finally take the record off its webpage.
“This is implicative of the fact that Atiku still has a case of corruption upon his person and character in the US as revealed by the US Senate Report (cited above) The non-apprehension of Atiku in the United States can be attributed to the following reasons:
“From available information, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is also the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation engaged the services of an influential lobbyist with the Trump Administration, Brian D. Ballard of Ballard Partners, Inc., on September 21, 2018, to secure entry for Atiku Abubakar into the US. The lobbyists got paid $1.1 million and a monthly pay $90,000 on quarterly basis, while the facilitators got $800,000 for their services in getting the lobbyist. The lobbyist explored some lacunas in International Law and America’s Policy on Non-Intervention (Non-Interference) with political activities of foreign countries. The scheme was very discreet with only a very few privy to the information even among the top echelons of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Team.
“The United States has a policy prohibiting the interference with political activities of other countries. This lacuna aided the lobbyists in putting up an argument which made it seem that United States’ refusal to allow Atiku access into the country at this moment was already providing an advantage to the All Progressives Congress (APC) , we should not forget that Goodluck Jonathan alleged in his book and attributed his defeat in the 2015 election to the interference of the US.
“Thus, any action of the United States that confers an advantage to a political party amounts to interference in the electoral process. This argument by the lobbyist was persuasive enough.
“Secondly, and more on informed assumption, for the United States being a government which endeavours to protect and promotes democracy around the world and having political affairs desks at their various embassies that analyse and aggregate candidates, political parties, and events where they are located, they could grant Mr Atiku a leeway as a high profile contender in the forth-coming presidential elections in Nigeria.
“This is because the American authorities are not unaware of the constitutional provisions and other related legislation(s) in Nigeria and the associated problems and/or political crisis which his arrest could create in the Nigerian democratic system since our constitution and electoral law only have the provision for the replacement of a dead candidate as in the case of Abubakar Audu of Kogi State, and did not envisage a case where the aspirant in a major election could be arrested, and more so, in another country on allegations of corruption.
“The United States Government shall not be so directly engaged in an act that would jeopardize the democracy in another country, and better still, the democracy in Nigeria; hence he could enjoy a diplomatic waiver (against arrest) because of his status as a candidate of major opposition party.
“His arrest at this point could be viewed by many at various quarters as being motivated by the Nigerian Government. This is despite the constitutional crisis that the country would be plunged into. Just like In the case of Uhuru Kenyatta, he was indicted by the ICC but could still move around enjoying his diplomatic immunity.
“The US Government could put all these considerations and look at a bigger picture for the sake of democracy. But if Atiku could not step into the United States for the last 12 years, not even to visit his beloved wife (Jennifer) who is a citizen of the United States, he is now dared to visit the United States after he must have lost the February presidential elections in Nigeria. That is when we shall be slaked of any questions regarding his arrest in the United States.
“Based on the logic of this argument, Atiku Abubakar was granted conditional waiver for six months to enter the United States. He could not stay in the United States for more than seven days within the waiver period, neither could he communicated with any member of the US Government.
He must also agreed to a 24-hour surveillance of himself while in the US,” the APC Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team said.