Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has finally been issued a visa to the United States, despite being arrestable.
A family source disclosed this on Saturday and confirmed that the former vice-president has left Nigeria for the UK, where he will spend some time before flying to the US.
It was gathered that former president Olusegun Obasanjo 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.
The trip 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, intially fueling 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.
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.
On Thursday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had warned the US to be cautious in granting visa to the main opponent of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Asked to comment on Atiku’s visa status on Friday, Rusell Brooks, spokesman 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.
Some All Progressives Congress (APC) members had alleged that Brian Ballard, publicist of US President Donald Trump, was working towards relaxing the visa ban on Atiku
Meanwhile, reports have it that Atiku Abubakar has returned to Nigeria after failing to secure assurances from the US Department of Justice that he will not be arrested if he sets his foot into the soil of the United State.
Waziri Adamawa secured a US visa and had travelled to the United Kingdom from where he will fly into the United state where he had not been able to step foot for more than 13 years.
“His mission in the United Kingdom is to get the British Government to help him secure the assurances of the United States Department of Justice that he will not be arrested upon setting foot in US soil. But the British government is reported to have informed Abubakar that the US Department of Justice has made it clear that it cannot guarantee he will not be arrested.”
Akpabio vows to crush Emmanuel
Godswill Akpabio, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State on Sunday vowed to crush the incumbent governor in the 2019 elections. He stated that he brought Emmanuel Udom from Lagos and installed him as Governor of the state.
Akpabio further disclosed that Emmanuel Udom never had a membership card of any political party neither had he contested for any election on his own, before he (Akpabio) picked him up from Lagos and made him Governor.
Daily Post reported that the former Senate Minority Leader who said the All Progressives Congress, APC, would record a landslide victory in the general elections in the State, added;
“I was shocked that Emmanuel whom I brought from Lagos and installed as a Governor even though he was not a member of the party on whose platform he stood election and become Governor, could call a world press conference to insult me.
He said, ‘’the electorate in the state would reciprocate the kind gesture of Mr President Buhari by voting massively for him and all candidates of the APC in the state.’’
Akpabio who took a swipe at Governor Emmanuel over what he described as hypocritical campaign slogan tagged “only God”, said God cannot be mocked, noting that;
“Only God could have made it possible to make someone who was never a party member to become a governor.
“Only God could have made somebody who has never had a party card or know what is called ward to become a governor.
“Only God could have made someone who could not have stood election on his own even as a Councilor and win to be brought from somewhere and made Governor.
”Only God could have made a man who has never helped anyone to become anything to become governor.”
Buhari to meet APC NWC
President Muhammadu Buhari may meet All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) this week over the campaign for next year’s poll.
The meeting may also review reconciliation efforts to pacify aggrieved members.
The President has banned public officers and agencies from contributing to his campaign.
There are indications, however, that most leaders prefer the beginning of marathon rallies from January.
Other support groups can, however, engage in various campaigns nationwide.
The NWC wrote President Buhari before his trip to Poland for an audience to firm up campaign modalities.
A presidency source said: “Mr President will soon kick off his campaign after consultations with the party. The NWC actually wrote to seek an audience with him on some issues.
“These issues are campaign modalities, determining the kick-off date, outcome of the reconciliation efforts and how to ensure victory at the poll. Do not forget that the party gave the six reconciliation panels a two-week deadline to complete their assignment.
“The President promised to meet with the NWC after his trip to Poland. So, the session may hold this week.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “ Buhari does not want public funds diverted to his campaign. He has warned public officers, ministries, departments and agencies against contributing to his campaign.
“ The President is determined to end the practice of diverting funds meant for projects to the campaign. Certainly, the 2019 poll will be based on character and the achievements of this administration.
“Government officers and heads of agencies who plan to fiddle with public funds for the campaign will have themselves to blame.”
Most APC leaders prefer January for campaign shuttles in order not to disrupt the Christmas session.
Some leaders also advised the President to lay the 2019 Budget before embarking on the campaign.
Donald trump nominates Heather Nauert as UN envoy
The President of the United States,Donald Trump has announced that the spokeswoman for the State Department and former Fox TV news anchor Heather Nauert Friday will be the new ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump told reporters that Nauert, who is going to be Nikki Haley’s sucessor, had done well at the State Department by all,” Trump said.
He further added that Nauert through her hard work and diligence has proved beyond doubt that she is worthy of the office.Haley,the incumbent ambassador announced who had also served as the governor of South Carolina has decided to step down to pursue her political dreams.
Nauert — a former anchor of “Fox and Friends,” among the television-loving Trump’s favorite shows — is the spokeswoman of the State Department despite the fact that she lacks foreign policy experience.
Unlike her predecessor , Nauert is not expected to have cabinet status,which means that foreign policy decisions will remain firmly with Trump’s hawkish national security advisor John Bolton, and Nauert’s current boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
This recommendation would have to go through the senate and it is likely to come to fruition and gain support since the republicans enjoy majority in the house.
Israel, a very close ally has shown their support for the new change, they hope to continue to enjoy the support of the United States in the UN Security Council.
“Ms. Nauert has stood by the State of Israel in her previous positions, and I have no doubt that the cooperation between our two countries will continue to strengthen as ambassador to the UN,” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said in a statement.
Haley, in what could be a final diplomatic push, on Thursday failed in a bid for the UN General Assembly to condemn the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas for firing rockets at Israel.
But for the United States, the vote also succeeded in reaffirming its stance that the United Nations is biased against Israel.
Court sacks APC exco
The Anambra State Executive Committee (SEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by Emeka Ibe, has been sacked by a Federal High Court. But in a statement, yesterday in Awka, the state capital, by the State Publicity Secretary, Okelo Madukaife, the party said there was no cause for alarm.
The sack followed a suit filed by one of the state chairmanship contestants in the party’s congress in May, Mr Onyi Uzochukwu.
The plaintiff said Ibe was not properly nominated during the Congress.
He prayed the court to nullify the Congress and call for a fresh one.
Delivering judgment yesterday, Justice I. B. Gafai nullified the congress and ordered for a fresh one.
But the party said the court judgment had not been served on any of the sacked persons.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to reports in some sections of the media to the effect that the Anambra State Executive of APC has been dissolved by a Federal High Court sitting in Awka.
“Our State Executive has not been served with any court process in any High Court matter relating to any subject around our mandate duly conferred on May 19…
“However, given our status as a party of the rule of law and due process, we shall, if and when we are served with such a process and judgment, study it properly with a view to doing the needful on it, within the hierarchy of laws and courts in Nigeria.
“For now, there is no shaking, as we remain in our duty post with three years and a half to complete our tenure.
“In the interim, our Executive remain intact, properly constituted and within the due discharge of its duties in our great party.”
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