Members of the Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations in Nigeria, on Wednesday stormed the US embassy in Abuja, urging the American government to deny former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar visa to its country.
Atiku, who is also the 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), according to the group, was allegedly involved in a bribery scandal for which Senator William Jefferson was tried and jailed for 13 years in 2009.
The National Convener of the group, Comrade Wole Badmus that led the protest, said that “granting his (Atiku’s) visa request will amount to a negation of the Patriot Act which makes the acceptance of foreign corruption proceeds a US money laundering offence.
“It also makes a mockery of the United Nations Convention against Corruption enacted in 2003 in which USA played an active role in its enactment and presently ratified by over 40 countries. It is also against the spirit of investigative group dedicated to combating foreign corruption by Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) formed in 2003 by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Finally granting such request makes a mess of a president Bush Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying Us visa to foreign officials involved with corruption, and other supporting legislations by the congress.”
He noted that if the US denied the former Vice President its visa for 13 years and now grants it to him in the twilight of his presidential election, it will be tantamount to making a mockery of the United Nation’s Convention against corruption.
He added that if the US that is seen as a global seat of democracy, rule of law and transparency grants it visa to an allegedly political criminals in Nigeria, the country would have aided him to score a cheap political goal.
Although the US embassy in Abuja was on a public holiday yesterday following the burial ceremony of its former President George Bush, Badmus read his letter addressed to the US Ambassador, Stuart Symington before a surging crowd of protesters and the armed policemen on guard.
The letter which was titled “The Imperatives of Rejecting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s Visa Request,” said that “we write to officially and strongly advise the United States embassy against granting this request as doing so has the capacity if portraying the great American state as being supportive of illicit transactions and gross abuse of public office for personal aggrandisement.
“This is apart from the tacit and covert electoral gain such can confer him as the general correct perception in our country now is that an Atiku is being denied America Visa because of proven cases of money laundering and financial crimes against him.”
The protesters were decked in orange T shirts and faze caps, carrying different placard with inscriptions such as: “US, stay clear of Nigeria’s internal politics.” No issuance of politically motivated visa to Atiku.” “Senator Jefferson was jailed, Lady Jennifer was jailed, Atiku must also be jailed in the US.” “Nigerians say no to America’s interference in the nation’s politics.” “Go, Atiku Go to jail in America.”
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