Titi Abubakar, the wife of presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has revealed how the former vice president was victimised by the military government of Muhammadu Buhari decades ago.

Before Buhari was elected Nigeria's current democratic president in 2015, he ruled the country as a military Head of State after heading a military coup in 1983 until he was dethroned in another coup two years later.

While speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, December 7, 2018, Titi said Buhari's government tried to get Atiku sacked as a Customs officer when he insisted on inspecting the controversial 53 suitcases imported into the country by a first class northern traditional ruler.

Atiku was the Customs Officer in Charge of the Murtala Muhammed Airport when the suitcases were imported into the country and he tried but failed to confiscate the suitcases which were driven away in a military truck.

During a courtesy visit to leaders of the South South, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Middle Belt Forum at the residence of Chief Edwin Clark, a former federal commissioner, Titi said Atiku almost almost lost his job based on pressure from the government of the time headed by the man currently in the Presidential Villa in 2018.

She said, "When Atiku was in Customs, there was one incident that happened in the 80's when 53 suitcases were brought in by a traditional ruler during the administration of the present president and he insisted that those suitcases must be opened.

"But they were very angry with him and they called the then Minister of Finance, Onaolapo Soleye, and they said they should throw him out of the job.”

"But the minister said to them, this is one of the finest officers he had, that he would never throw Atiku out. That was what the man did.

"They said, 'It's okay, if you don't want to throw the man out, transfer him immediately.'  Atiku was that day transferred to Kano."

The former vice president's wife, an advocate for women and child rights, said he's only interested in the socio-economic development of the country and would create a prosperous life for Nigerians.

2019 presidential election

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (left) and President Muhammadu Buhari (right)

While next year's election, scheduled for February 16, 2019, is expected to be keenly-contested between Atiku and President Buhari, they both face competition from other candidates including Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).

Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People's Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.

79 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria's electoral history.