Some few weeks ago a group of protesters under banner of Forum of Non Governmental Organisations in Nigeria led by its Chairman Comrade Wole Badmus demonstrated and presented a letter containing their grievances on why the US government should not grant visa to Atiku Abubakar the PDP Presidential candidate in the 2019 general election.
In their petitions to the US Ambassador the group alleged that;
Atiku, who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in next year’s presidential election, was allegedly involved in a bribery scandal for which Senator William Jefferson was tried and jailed for 13 years in 2009.
The group’s convener, Wole Badmus, said: Granting (Atiku’s) visa request will amount to a negation of the Patriot Act which makes the acceptance of foreign corruption proceeds a U.S. money laundering offence.
“It also makes a mockery of the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Corruption enacted in 2003 in which the U.S. 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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
He added by saying; “granting such request makes a mess of a President Bush Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying U.S. visa to foreign officials involved with corruption, and other supporting legislations by the congress.”
He noted that if the U.S. 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 UN convention against corruption.
Badmus added that if the U.S. that is seen as a global seat of democracy, rule of law and transparency grants its visa to Atiku, the country would have aided him to score a cheap political goal.
He ended by strongly advising the United States Embassy against granting this request as doing so has the capacity of 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 Atiku is being denied America Visa because of proven cases of money laundering and financial crimes against him.”
He advice the US to, “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 U.S.”; “Nigerians say no to America’s interference in the nation’s politics”; and “Go, Atiku Go to jail in America.”
Ordinarily, the group action may be seen to be patriotic but for their suggestions that granting Atiku visa request would amount to supporting his candidature for the 2019 general election puts the groups efforts to questions. Have they also asked themselves whose chances their actions would promote in the 2019 general elections?
The groups call for Atiku to be taken to jail in America is hateful and this kind of statements should not come from a Non Governmental Organisation such as the one he represents.
It also raises the questions why is the group silent for 13years and why it chooses this period to speak? The group by its action has shown partisanship and has therefore ruled itself from monitoring of the 2019 general by exposing where it belongs. But before we return to that let us consider the following pertinent questions;
Q1. when has the issuance of visa which is a personal matter become an issue to a Non Governmental organisation such as the group under reference?
2. How “a political” the group is in the light of the fact that INEC the agency responsible for conducting election has cleared Atiku to stand for the Presidential Election in 2019?
3. How can the group purge itself from being accused as agent of the opposition masquerading under the banner of the Non Governmental organisation in order to gain the sympathy of the public and promote partisan agenda?
4. Has Atiku been charged or indicted by any of court of competent jurisdiction either in the US or Nigeria for any of the crimes he is being accused of?
5. Why is the group playing the card of the third columnist?
6. How can mare suspicion of commitment of crime become an indictment?
7, Is the position of the group not consistent with the government’s position especially in the light of the same demand accredited to the Minister of Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, when he appealed to the U.S. government not to grant Mr Abubakar a visa as this would send the wrong signal to the country on who the U.S. was supporting politically in 2019”?
These are some of the issues we shall examine in the light of the statement accredited to US embassy in Nigeria regarding its policies on granting or denial of visa to individuals.
The US Embassy in its response to several inquiries regarding the non issuance of visa to the Waziri of Adamawa to visit the US which has been politicised spoke through its Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Mr. Brussel Brooks, that; “ the issuance of U.S. visa to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and anyone else. is strictly a confidential matter” He added that, “the U.S. Government will not discuss the issue in public for any reason.
Mr Brooks enjoined candidates at all levels to focus on issue-based campaigns and avoid distractions.
With the position taken by the US embassy it is our expectation that the Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria led by Comrade Wole Badmus, should have taken the advice and acted by stopping their members from embarking on the disgraceful, shameful and unnecessary protest that became a national embarrassment.
This singular act by the group has robbed the organisation the genuine patriotic sentiments they wanted to portray on behalf of the gullible Nigerians. Their actions were un called for and it ended by exposing the under belly of their hidden agenda.
It has also reduced the group to the level of political thugs usually hired by the politicians to over heat the polity.
The Comrade and his group must know the US embassy does not need their prodding to grant or deny visa to any Nigerian or anyone else because they have the means and capacity to deal with such cases.
Let me also use this opportunity to educate Mr. Badmus that Nigeria has an extradition treaty with the US and it can request through the due processes of law to get Atiku extradited to the US to face the consequence of his actions.
Further more if the US government wanted Atiku arrested for the offence he committed against the United States as alleged, it would have done so 13years ago. After all Atiku has in the last 13 years since the matter under reference was on the table visited several countries that the US has extradition treaty, and they could have picked him from there.
The case of the leader of WikiLeaks now holed up in the Bolivian Embassy in London. The arrest of the Heir apparent of Huawei a Chinese technology company in Canada on the request of the US for violating American embargo on Iran shows clearly how the US does not need any advise from Badmus and his group if they have to pick Atiku and try him in the Us.
In fact what Comrade Badmus should have done is to take his fellow protesters to Aso Villa and ask why the Nigerian Government failed to arrest Atiku and send him to jail for crime they are alleging he committed in the US, after all the money they claim he stole belongs to the Nigerian people.
The group had in their letter acknowledged, the US government had already demonstrated its commitment to stand by all its legislations referenced in the petition by showing leadership in the trial and the sentencing of its nationals to various prison terms for the offences our nation has failed to hold its citizens accountable.
To camouflage under the umbrella of a respectable Forum of the Non Governmental organisations in Nigeria and play politics is absurd, dishonest and embarrassing, more especially when the US Embassy had already made its position known on issues regarding visa issuance.
To play to the gallery for cheap political gains will end in self destructions for the organisation. As a people we must not open our dirty linens in the public for the whole world to laugh at us. There are processes and procedures to explore on all issues before we draft our gullible citizens on the streets to demonstrate.
The honour to do the right thing is on us. We must stand up and do the right things before others could respect us. Do we really need to ask the US to arrest Atiku and send him to jail America? After all the alleged stolen money belongs to the Nigerian people?
Atiku has not ran away from Nigeria in fact he has even challenged anybody, who has any evidence that he was involved in corrupt practices to produce it.
if we can’t do it our selves then we must shut up. We must not continue looking for solutions to our problems else where.