President Muhammadu Buhari was banned from entering the United States
because Americans had reservations about his religious views, former Vice
President Atiku Abubakar said Friday.
Critics have long accused Mr. Buhari of holding religious views
antithetical to modern democratic principles, a charge the president has
In 2001, Mr. Buhari drew nationwide backlash when he was quoted as
declaring support for the Islamic doctrine of Shari’a and as calling on
Muslims to only vote for their fellow Muslims during elections. The
president challenged the report saying he was quoted out of context.
He has also repeatedly denied being an extremist, saying he tolerates
other religions as much as he does his Muslim faith.
“For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of
religious considerations,” Mr. Abubakar said in an interview with Dele
Momodu which was published in The Boss Newspaper Saturday.
Mr. Momodu had asked Mr. Abubakar why he had not been able to visit the
United States for many years, amid speculations that he is wanted in that
country for a slew of sharp practices.
Mr. Abubakar, who is expected to run for president in 2019, said the U.S.
authorities have nothing against him. He said he was able to visit Europe
regularly without being arrested for onward extradition to the U.S.
The former vice president said if Nigerians elect him president, he would
be allowed into the United States just like Mr. Buhari and Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, both of whom are now being accorded red carpet
treatments in the U.S. after becoming leaders of their respective
Mr. Abubakar was named in at least one fraudulent deal in the United
States, which involved contract award in Nigeria.
An American congressman Williams Jefferson was jailed in 2009 after being
convicted by the FBI in relation to that case. A $100,000 cash which
federal agents found in Mr. Jefferson’s apartment during a raid was said
to have been from Mr. Abubakar.
Mr. Jefferson acted as a middleman in the deal, which saw him use his
political connection to top Nigerian officials to get the broadband
contract for iGate, a company linked to his immediate family members.
Mr. Abubakar, vice-president from 1999-2007, dumped the ruling All
Progressives Congress last week Friday, citing failure by the Buhari
administration to improve the quality of life in the country and neglect
of the youth in federal cabinet appointment.
His political allies have indicated that Mr. Atiku was on his way to the