The Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations in Nigeria, has led protesters on Wednesday and besieged the US embassy in Abuja demanding that the American Government should not issue American Visa to the 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
According to the group, Atiku 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 offense.
“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 Reguest,” 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 aggrandizement.
“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 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.”
The opening part of the letter said that “It was with highest level of discontent that we received an update of purported granting of entry visa to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the United States of America last Friday. We were jolted that America being the bastion of democracy, rule of law and transparency in public administration can debauch into the abyss of being used by discredited and renowned financial criminals in our country to score cheap political goals.
“However, our melancholic state transmuted into that of ecstasy upon establishing that such info was just a hoax and an attempt to test the water of public opinion in the eventuality of such request being undeservedly granted.”
Badmus recalled that the result of the US Senate Permanent sub-committee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Carl Levin that submitted submitted its report in February 2010 was supported by the US government owing to its concern about corruption in the Third World and its effects on democracy.
He said that “a summary of the report indicates that between 2000 and 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a US citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Ababakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40million suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to US bank accounts.
“In a 2008 civil complaint, the US Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Ms. Douglas received over $2million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002, from Siemens AG, a major German corporation.
“Sir, it may also interest you to know that in 2007, Mr. Abubakar was a subject of corruption allegations in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund and of the $40million in suspect funds, $25 million was wire transferred by offshore corporations into more than 39 US bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas, primarily by Guernsey a Trust Company Nigeria Ltd, LetsGo Ltd. inc. and Sima Holding Ltd.
“As each bank began to question the offshore wire transfers, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with offshore corporations actually sending her money. In 2009, Senator Jefferson a major accomplice and indicted official in the bribery scandal was tried in the US district court in Virginia on corruption charges. He was found guilty of sixteen corruption counts and was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on November 13, 2009.”
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