Former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has finally been issued a visa to the United States, TheCable writes.
In a tweet on Saturday evening, his spokesman, Paul Ibe, said the presidential candidate travelled to the UK and is back in the country. He however did not comment on the issuance of US visa to his principal.
Atiku, who is widely travelled, has not been to the US in 13 years, initially fueling speculations that he might be avoiding possible arrest or prosecution.
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 as the controversy raged.
In the lead up to his declaration of 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.”
His purported receipt of a US visa comes days after Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had urged the US to be cautious in granting visa to the main opponent of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 as this could be viewed as endorsing a candidate ahead of the poll.