- Alhaji Atiku Abubakar's US visa was reportedly granted after a temporary reprieve
- The PDP presidential candidate reportedly hired US lobbyists who mounted pressure on congressional lawmakers
- The former vice president was allegedly banned from entering the US over alleged corruption involvement
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, reportedly received temporary reprieve from alleged corruption involvement before being allowed into the US.
According to exclusive report by Reuters, Atiku and his party hired two lobbying firms, Holland & Knight and Ballard Partners. While the former has reportedly been paid N28.9 million so far, the latter is being paid N32 million monthly since September.
It was reported that the lobbyists mounted pressure on congressional lawmakers to grant Atiku a temporary reprieve considering he was a leading candidate in the coming election.
They reportedly argued that there was no reason to maintain bad blood with a candidate who might win the election.
A state department official reportedly said: “Assistant Secretary Nagy was pleased to meet with him and share the U.S. government’s expectations that Nigeria’s elections be free, fair, transparent, and peaceful, and reflect the will of the Nigerian people.”
Ballard lobbyist Jamie Rubin reportedly said they did not ask the US government to take side.
He said: “We are not asking the administration or anyone to take sides, but to merely demand the same level of freeness and fairness.”
Atiku’s visa troubles came from when he served as Nigeria’s vice president, from 1999 to 2007.
According to the report, “he figured prominently in the corruption trial of former U.S. Representative William Jefferson, who was accused of trying to bribe Atiku in an effort to expand a technology business in Nigeria. Jefferson was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. His sentence was subsequently reduced.
“Separately U.S. Senate investigators in 2010 alleged that one of Atiku’s four wives helped him transfer more than $40 million in “suspect funds” into the United States from offshore shell companies.
“At least $1.7 million of that money was bribes paid by German technology company Siemens AG, according to Senate investigators. Siemens pleaded guilty to bribery charges in 2008 and agreed to pay a $1.6 billion fine.”
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Meanwhile, the president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has expressed confidence in the ability of the PDP presidential candidate to meet up with the yearning of people on job creation if elected in the coming February 16 election.
Speaking during the PDP campaign rally in Enugu state, the Senate president, who also doubles as the director general of PDP presidential campaign, said Atiku would come with a fresh economic plan that would meet the demand of Nigerians.
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