Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was restricted for 13 years from applying visa for the United States. However, as Atiku is now a candidate of 2019 Presidential elections for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he can now avail the service, according to the US Embassy.
Protesters of non-governmental organizations of Nigeria stormed the US Embassy in Abuja, and appealed to the American government to deny visa to Atiku. The protesters wore orange T shirts and faze caps, and carried placards with that read “US, stay clear of Nigeria’s internal politics.” “No issuance of politically motivated visa to Atiku.”
According to the protestors, former vice president Atiku Abubakar was allegedly involved in corruption and bribery scandal. He had corruption charges in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund and $40 million in suspect funds.
His fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas, a US citizen, helped him bring over $40 million suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to more than 39 US bank accounts. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Douglas received over $2 million in bribe payments.
Senator William Jefferson was jailed for 13 years in 2009 due to these charges. The protestors held up banners with quotes, “Senator Jefferson was jailed, Lady Jennifer was jailed, Atiku must also be jailed in the US.” “Nigerians say no to America’s interference in the nation’s politics.” “Go, Atiku Go to jail in America.”
The protestors also wrote a letter to the American authorities, titled “The Imperatives of Rejecting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s Visa Request,” which stated, “We write to officially and strongly advise the United States embassy against granting this request as doing so has the capacity if portraying the great American state as being supportive of illicit transactions and gross abuse of public office for personal aggrandizement. This is apart from the tacit and covert electoral gain such can confer him as the general correct perception in our country now is that an Atiku is being denied America Visa because of proven cases of money laundering and financial crimes against him.”
US played an important role in the enactment of United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003 and later, 40 countries established this act. The protestors argue that if the US granted visa to Atiku Abubakar, it would be against President Bush Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying US visa to foreign officials involved with corruption and other supporting legislation by the congress.
Giving political power to someone with criminal records can have serious consequences. Besides, Atiku by being a presidential candidate, do not grow immunity against his illegal activities from the past. While the agenda behind US embassy’s decision to grant him visa remains unclear, the protests by Nigerian citizens hold water.