Atiku
Atiku Abubakar. Photo: AFP

The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has finally been issued a visa to the United States.

It was learned that the former vice-president has left Nigeria for the UK, where he would spend some time before flying to the U. S.

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According to TheCable on Saturday, there is yet no date fixed for his US trip.

The online medium said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo played a “critical” role in getting the American government to issue the visa to his former deputy with whom he was estranged for almost 15 years.

Atiku, who is widely travelled, has not been to the US in 13 years, intially fueling speculations that he might be avoiding possible arrest or prosecution.

His political opponents had used his absence from the US not just to taunt but to discredit him.

His row with the US authorities began after the FBI investigated a bribery scandal involving William Jefferson, former US congressman, in 2004.

Atiku was accused of demanding a bribe of $500,000 to facilitate the award of contracts to two American telecommunication firms in Nigeria.

The FBI had searched his residence in the posh neighbourhood of Potomac, Maryland, but no money was found.

The investigators had videotaped Jefferson, who was the congressman representing Louisiana, receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills which he claimed was meant for Atiku, but the former vice-president has consistently denied the allegation.

Despite Atiku’s claim to innocence, the controversy raged.