- The campaign team of Atiku Abubakar has denied report that the former vice president paid US lobbyist to enter U.S
An international investigative journalist, Judd Legum, had claimed on his website that Abubakar hired an influential American lobbyist to facilitate his entry to US
- But a source in Atiku's campaign team described the report as false and misleading
The campaign team of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has denied that the former vice president paid $1.1m to American lobbyist, Brian Ballard, before he was allowed to enter the U.S.
Legit.ng gathered that an international investigative journalist, Judd Legum, had reported in his website, Popular Information, that Abubakar, allegedly paid $1.1m to influential American lobbyist, Brian Ballard, to enter the U.S.
But in reacting to the allegation, a source in the Atiku's campaign group, said that allegation is far from the truth.
The source said: "First, the issue of PDP getting a lobbyist was discussed extensively by the media since November las year. Secondly, the so called lobbyist was contracted even before the presidential primaries. Third, there is no evidence except innuendos that Atiku paid anyone any millions of dollars to curry favour from Trump.
"At these perilous moments in our nation's history, we must be very cautions of allowing our platforms, especially revered ones to become the annex of propaganda for some individuals who are so desperate to hold on to their daily bread even at the detriment of the entire country.
"They have done almost everything to discredit the AA US visitation as this was their last joker banking on him not visiting.
"First they said he got immunity against because he entered as Saraki's aide, secondly they said FBI and co were on strike due to the shutdown and now they are coming up with this.
"It is not only ridiculous but distasteful and the campaign organization won't be responding to it because we expect the media to know better.
In the series of tweets on his twitter page, @JuddLegum, Legum, had said that with the election less than a month away in Nigeria, Abubakar arrived in the United States last Thursday, January 20, and promptly checked into the Trump hotel.
Legum in his article also alleged that Abubakar hired a key member of Trump's political operation with a $1.1 million per year lobbying contract in November, 2018.
"What happened? In November, Abubakar hired a key member of Trump's political operation with a $1.1 million per year lobbying contract", he asked.
He said Abubakar's visit was almost entirely ignored by the U.S. media, adding that it's a story that revealed a lot about how things work in Trump's Washington.
According to him, the corruption allegations against Abubakar were detailed in a 2010 bipartisan report by the U.S. Senate, "Keeping foreign corruption out of the United States: Four case histories."
Abubakar denied all allegations of corruption in the report and has never been criminally charged.
The report says that Abubakar, through his wife, Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, funneled $40 million in "suspect funds" to the United States, including millions in "bribe payments." An alleged bribe which came from a major German corporation, Siemens, looms large.
He said that after being banned from entering the U.S. for 12 years, Abubkar showed up at the Trump Hotel on Thursday, January 17.
Legum said: "The previously untold story of how he got there illustrates how you can buy influence in Trump's Washington.
"You might have heard of Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria, because the FBI alleged he demanded a $500K bribe from former Rep William Jefferson. That was the guy with cash in his freezer who is currently serving a 13 year jail sentence.
"Abubakar was also featured in a 2010 Senate report called "Keeping foreign corruption out of the United States: Four case histories." It detailed how Abubakar funneled $40 million in "suspect funds" into the U.S. Siemens admitted to sending a $1.7 million bribe.
"A former government official told Popular Information that, pursuant to a presidential proclamation targeting foreign corruption, Abubakar was barred from obtaining a U.S. visa.
"His inability to travel to the US was becoming a major issue in Abubakar's campaign for president. Elections are next month. Then everything changed. What happened? Abubakar inked a $1.1 million lobbying contract with a man named Brian Ballard
"Ballard is one of the most connected lobbyists in the Trump orbit. He ran Trump's Florida operation and before that was a lobbyist for the Trump org in Florida.
"Since Trump was elected he's signed up a slew of A-list clients like Amazon and Uber. After a 12 year ban, a couple of months after hiring Ballard, Abubakar was in the U.S. -- he even met with a Congressman and spoke to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Legum in his investigation also revealed that The documents included an affidavit signed by an F.B.I. agent who said that the Nigerian vice president, Atiku Abubakar, now a candidate for president of that oil-rich West African nation, asked for at least half of the profits of a technology company controlled by Jefferson that was seeking to do business in Nigeria.
He said: "About the same time last year, the documents said, Mr. Jefferson told colleagues of his plans to bribe Nigerian officials, including Mr. Abubakar, in exchange for their help in winning business in Nigeria, and that Mr. Abubakar would be paid as much as $500,000 in cash.
"According to the FBI, cell phone records and conversations between Jefferson and a confidential informant confirmed the scheme. The FBI did not provide conclusive evidence that any money was paid to Abubakar. But the FBI says the $90,000 in cash found in Jefferson's freezer was intended for Abubakar.
"Abubakar spoke openly about his inability to obtain a U.S. visa. "It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America. I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa," Abubakar said in an interview in December 2017.
"In 2004, President George W. Bush signed Presidential Proclamation 7750 which ban entry into the United States for current and former corrupt foreign officials -- especially those whose corruption has a nexus in the United States.
"The U.S. government does not publicly disclose why individuals are denied visas. But a former government official who has seen the documentation confirmed to Popular Information that Abubakar, until very recently, was banned from obtaining a U.S. visa under Proclamation 7750.
Why Atiku hired Trump's lobbyist Brian Ballard
Legum said that Abubakar's inability to enter the United States was becoming a drag on his campaign to be the next president of Nigeria.
He noted: "So Abubakar had a problem. His inability to enter the United States was becoming a drag on his campaign to be the next president of Nigeria.
"So he hired Brian Ballard. Ballard is a lobbyist with deep connections to the Trump administration. Ballard, a prolific fundraiser, "chaired the Trump Victory organization" in Florida and "lobbied on behalf of the Trump Organization in the state for more than a decade."
"After Trump was elected, Ballard expanded his practice in DC and signed up a slew of A-list clients eager to tap into his connections. Ballard "also represents governments of Qatar, Turkey, Maldives, the Dominican Republic and Mali and lists US corporate giants Amazon, Sprint and Uber as clients."
"Raj Shah, Trump's former principal deputy press secretary left the White House last week to join Ballard's firm.
"On September 21, 2018, Abubakar, through his political party, The People’s Democratic Party, inked a contract with Ballard Partners for $1.1 million per year. Among other things, Ballard was to help Abubakar advance "democratic values and the rule of law in Nigeria." The contract required an immediate payment of $270,000 with another $270,000 due in late December.
"In January, Abubakar was able to travel to the United States. Despite his connections to the William Jefferson bribery scandal, he was even able to score a meeting with Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"Abubakar also claimed in an interview that he was scheduled to meet with officials at the State Department.
"Now Abubakar is back in Nigeria, buoyed by his trip to the United States as his campaign enters its final days. His campaign slogan is Trumpian: "Let's get Nigeria working again."
"He is running on a pledge "to double the size of Nigeria's economy to $900 billion by 2025" by privatizing the economy.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Lauretta Onochie, an aide in the presidency claiming that the United States Bureau of African Affairs said that Atiku Abubakar, was listed as an aide of Senate president Bukola Saraki.
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