Why Atiku couldn’t travel to US

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Atiku pays tribute to Obasanjo in acceptance speech

Why Atiku couldn’t travel to US

The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and a former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar has been taunted by his political opponent over his inability to travel to the United State.

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.

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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.

The investigators had videotaped Jefferson, who was the congressman representing Louisiana, receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills which he claimed was meant for Atiku, 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.