Battle for Aso Rock in 2019 begins between Atiku, Buhari

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Atiku: Buhari banned from US for 15 years

Buhari: I was never banned from US

Former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, who just dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC), had on Saturday said Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari was banned from entering the United States of America for 15 years as a result of religious issues.

Atiku stated this while responding to questions from Dele Momodu, publisher of BOSS newspaper. Atiku was responding to what prevented his entry into the United States for many years, whether he was banned from entering the United States.

The former Vice President, however, noted that he was not banned, but only that he was not granted visa, adding that the United States has the right to grant visa to whoever it wishes to visit the country.

He said: “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.”

He was, however, optimistic that if he becomes the president of the country, he would be granted access just as it was done to Buhari and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adding that he was not running away from the US.

Atiku said: “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. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process. This is not peculiar to me.

“For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of religious considerations. The current Indian Prime Minister, Modi, suffered the same fate for years. Today, he is being treated to red carpet treatment in America. I fly to different parts of the world including Europe, if America wanted me, it would be so easy for them to reach out to their allies…”

If not for politics, Atiku’s explanation could have passed as mere reinforcement of his reason for not being able to enter the US, but however, in a swift response, the Presidency refuted what Atiku said. Special Adviser to the President on Media, Femi Adesina, said the fiction concocted by Atiku and being passed as truth is mind boggling.

He said at no time was President Buhari, as a private person, ever forbidden from entering any country in the world. Rather, the rest of the world has always held Muhammadu Buhari as a man of sterling qualities, strong on integrity, transparency and accountability.

Adesina stressed that the same testimony is still borne of the Nigerian President by many world leaders today. He noted that it is curious that former VP Abubakar had been asked why he had not visited America for over a decade, something that had been a stubborn fact dogging his footsteps. Instead of answering directly, he begged the question, saying Buhari also had been disallowed from entering the same country for 15 years, before becoming President.

Adesina said: “We hereby make it resoundingly clear that what the former Vice President said only exists in the realm of his imagination. If he has issues to settle with American authorities, he should do so, rather than clutch at a straw.”

A pro-Buhari group also faulted Atiku’s claim on Buhari. The Buhari Media Support Group on Saturday dismissed the statement by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that President Muhammadu Buhari was banned from entering the United States of America because of his purported extremist religious views as “baseless and unfounded allegation.”

This was contained in a statement signed by the group’s chairman, Austin Braimoh, and made available to newsmen in Abuja. The group said it was shocked by Atiku’s “curious and spurious allegations”, saying there was no time Buhari was ever banned from entering the US or any Western country because of any alleged or perceived extreme religious views.

“The former Vice President appears to have his facts or information mixed up somewhere. He must be confusing someone else with Buhari,” the group said.

It added that Buhari has enjoyed and continues to enjoy enormous international goodwill, explaining that he had no reason being in the United States after he finished from the War College.

It said since then, it was on 2016 that Buhari was invited to deliver a lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in the United States while he was also at the Chatam House in London.

Buhari couldn’t have visited a country where he was officially banned because of any so-called extreme religious views, the group said, urging Atiku to publish such record if he has any. The group advised the former Vice President to play fair politics and avoid dragging the President’s name in the mud for political advantage.

It said political leaders should lead by example through truthfulness and avoid spreading unfair and unfounded rumours against perceived opponents. They explained that Buhari bears no ill will towards Atiku in the pursuit of his ambition, but requested the former Vice President to reciprocate that gesture by stopping the spread of disinformation against the President.

It would be recalled that Buhari had been quoted as supporting Sharia Law in Nigeria and also Atiku had said he was quoted out of context.

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