The ruling All Progressives Congress has described as illegal the visa granted by the United States to Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s main opposition presidential candidate.
Mr Abubakar entered the U.S. on Thursday, his first in 12 years, on a trip billed for meetings with Nigerian business elite in Washington D.C. and a stop at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for off-record briefing on Nigeria’s economic matters. Both the politician and his supporters in the Peoples Democratic Party see the journey as a major political victory.
But Mr Abubakar’s “entry and presence in the USA is a mockery of President Bush Proclamation 7750 which affirms the denial of US visa to foreign officials involved with corruption and other supporting legislations by the Congress,” the APC U.S. chapter said in a statement Thursday night. “APC believes” that Mr Abubakar “should be held accountable for his involvement in money laundering.”
The statement, signed by Ronke Ekwensi, national secretary of APC U.S. chapter, contained many defamatory comments, including the outright description of Mr Abubakar as “a thief” wearing the “cloak of corruption,” even though Mr Abubakar has not been charged to court of any such crime.
Mr Abubakar has been taunted for years by critics over his inability to enter the U.S. since leaving office as Nigeria’s vice-president in 2007. The stalemate, which Mr Abubakar himself expressed strong concerns about, was the source of many speculations, especially claim that the politician was being denied visa because he had been found wanting in a series of corrupt deals.
But while Mr Abubakar has been investigated by the U.S. authorities, including the country’s Senate, and was a suspect in a bribery scandal that sent a former U.S. federal lawmaker to jail, the Nigerian politician was never convicted of any crime.