Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari was barred from the United States for 15 years due to his religious views.
Atiku was quoted as saying this during an interview with Dele Momodu, which was part of his weekly column titled, ‘Pendulum’, published in The Boss Magazine.
Buhari had, at a seminar organised by the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria in August 2001, said, “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country. I will continue to show openly and inside me, the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.”
Atiku, who was one of the notable voices that opposed Buhari at the time, said Buhari was actually barred from travelling to the US for 15 years as a result of his position on the Sharia issue.
The former vice-president was responding to a question on why he avoided travelling to the US.
Atiku stated, “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.
“They’ve only said my application is going through an 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 accorded a 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…”
Meanwhile, the Presidency on Saturday described as a “fictive concoction” a claim credited to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar that President Muhammadu Buhari, for about 15 years, could not enter America on account of religious considerations.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Adesina said it was mind-boggling that a person of Atiku’s calibre who should know the truth was spreading the lies.
He said the claim made by the former VP only existed in the realm of his imagination, as Buhari was never stopped from entering America.
The presidential spokesman said if Atiku had issues to settle with American authorities, he should do so, rather than clutch at a straw.
The statement read, “Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, claims in an interview published Saturday that ‘for about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of religious considerations.’
“This fictive concoction being passed off as truth is mind-boggling, coming from a former Number Two Man of Nigeria, who should know the truth.
“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.
“The same testimony is still borne of the Nigerian President by many world leaders today.
“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.
“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.”