The World Anti-Corruption Research Network has asked the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to disallow Atiku Abubakar from contesting in Saturday’s presidential election.
The UK-based group in the petition dated February 20, 2019 said it is worried about Atiku’s candidacy which “poses a security risk to the country”.
It also wrote a petition to Nancy Patricia Pelosi, speaker of the US house of representatives, asking for an investigation into Atiku’s recent visit to the US.
Atiku, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has had multiple criminal investigations over the last decade, the group said.
“The major heads of our concern against this candidate are twofold,” read the petition, signed by Gbenga Oduntan on behalf of two other group — HEDA, led by Olanrewaju Suraj, and The Corner House, headed by Nicholas Hildyard.
NOT A FIT AND PROPER PERSON
“In view of the available open source evidence, he is, in our opinion not fit and proper person and shouldn’t therefore, not be allowed to contest and/or enter into the most exalted office of the land in any country, let alone in Nigeria which has been addressing severe transparency challenges,” it added.
The group listed the alleged bribery and money laundering cases involving the former vice-president.
Atiku had been accused of demanding a bribe of $500,000 to facilitate the award of contracts to two American telecommunication firms in Nigeria and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had also searched his residence in the US but no money was found.
The investigators had videotaped William Jefferson, who was the congressman representing Louisiana, receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills which he claimed was meant for Atiku, but the PDP’s candidate has consistently denied the allegation.
“Atiku Abubakar’s exposure to the United States criminal justice system over the last decade gives the United States government near complete leverage over him,” the group said while listing the security implications should he emerge Nigeria’s president.
“It is extremely easy to compromise someone who has put himself in this position through blackmail. The threat of releasing damaging revelations and evidence kept on file against him over the years is a clear and present danger.
“The use of Kompromat on foreign leaders in international relations is alive and well and is in fact topical in relation to the United States history and current national life.”
The group said Atiku’s presidency would be vulnerable and be easily exploited by the US.
For 13 years, Atiku could not enter the US but he was eventually granted visa in December.
His subsequent visit to the US was a boast to his campaign but the group said his visit, allegedly facilitated by US lobbyists, is an indication of collusion between his campaign and foreign elements and this makes his candidacy a risky one on Nigeria.
The group called on security agencies, academia, lawyers to engage in an interdisciplinary study of the business and any other connections between Atiku and the US.
“In addition to the need to avoid allowing an easily compromised person to become President of Nigeria upon whom illegal leverage may be exercised, there is the urgent need to consider the implications for Nigeria’s image to install a President like Atiku Abubakar in view of the country’s avowed interests to abandon the brand of being a ‘fantastically corrupt state’,” it said.
‘INVESTIGATE ATIKU THOROUGHLY’
In the letter to Pelosi, the network said it wanted to express serious concerns “about the uncompleted criminal investigations concerning bribery, money laundering and corruption offences brought against Mr Atiku Abubakar, a current Presidential candidate in the upcoming Nigerian Election scheduled for 23rd of February 2019.
“The petition further asks the United States Congress to investigate thoroughly the recent controversial visit to Washington by Atiku Abubakar and some of his party members on the 17th of January Subsisting criminal investigations over the last decade, had meant that Atiku Abubakar notoriously could not enter the United States.
“The imperatives for congressional investigation is dictated by the fact that the actions and omissions of certain United States authorities may amount to gross violations of United States domestic laws and standards on The identifiable shortcomings may not only bring the United States to disrepute but may also amount to breaches of important United States commitments under international law and leading anticorruption treaties.”
Atiku is the major challenger of President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election holding on Saturday.