PDP presidential flagbearer Atiku Abubakar, arrived Nigeria on Sunday, November 11, 2018, after a three-week sojourn in Dubai.
Atiku and his campaign team were in Dubai to draw up detailed strategies for the upcoming 2019 election.
What happened when Atiku arrived Nigeria?
Atiku’s private jet reportedly touched down on Nigerian soil at about 1:30am.
Afterwards, according to the politician, he was subjected to the most dehumanizing airport search of his life--for political reasons.
“I arrived to (sic) Abuja this morning to a search by agents of the state, aimed at intimidating me and my staff”, Atiku shares in a tweet.
Atiku adds that: “I am committed to building a Nigeria where no citizen is intimidated by agents of state who are paid to protect them. Together, #LetsGetNigeriaWorkingAgain”.
Comrade Timi Frank, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC who is now an Atiku groupie, says the special squad of security men who carried out the search on Atiku confessed that they were directed by the presidency to embarrass the PDP presidential candidate.
The squad, Frank disclosed, were armed with recording gadgets in and out of Atiku's aircraft "to see if he returned to the country with foreign currencies or any other implicating materials."
Frank says security men and the presidency were disappointed when nothing implicating could be found on Atiku or his aircraft.
In Frank’s words, "due to information at our disposal, I have been saying it that the PDP presidential candidate is not safe under this administration because the Buhari administration is deploying all manners of devilish strategies to nail all the opposition leaders especially Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
"We are using this medium to inform the international community to also take note of how the Buhari administration is intimidating the opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who has served Nigeria as Vice President for eight years."
What did the PDP say about the alleged intimidation of its presidential candidate?
The opposition party says the security personnel who frisked Atiku attempted to physically manhandle him.
“The deadly squad, in a Gestapo style attack, and acting on ‘orders from above’ rushed our candidate immediately he landed and attempted to physically manhandle him before invading his aircraft with dangerous weapons to conduct a violent search.
“While they did not find anything incriminating on our presidential candidate, this deadly squad violently tampered with certain personal documents and gadgets belonging to him, including some of his campaign documents.
“We completely reject such violent attack against the person of our presidential candidate Atiku by the Buhari presidency, which we know has been jittery over Atiku Abubakar’s soaring popularity since his emergence as our candidate", the PDP wrote in a statement.
Has the federal government reacted to claims that it intimidated and embarrassed Atiku?
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says Atiku is only being mischievous with his claim.
“This is a mischievous attempt to grab the headlines. Nigerians need to know that one of the resolutions of the Atiku team at their recently-concluded, opulently-held Dubai retreat was to embark on scaremongering. This is one of such”, Sirika says.
The minister adds that what Atiku went through was just a routine airport search.
“For the records, all incoming passengers on international flights go through customs, immigration, health and security screening.
“Where the aircraft is using the private, charter wing, as the PDP candidate did, such arrivals are met by a team of the immigration, customs and other security agencies. They go to the arriving aircraft as a team", Sirika says.
Only presidents are exempt from these airport checks, says Sirika.
“The airport authorities confirm that this is a routine process, applying to all international arrivals, including the minister; unless the passenger is the President of Nigeria.
“The President, the Vice President and passengers aboard planes on the presidential air fleet use the presidential wing of the airport.
“It is also important to state that even in the presidential wing of the airport, which the president of Nigeria uses, there is the presence of immigration and other security officials who must stamp his or her passport on arrival.’’
According to Sirika, no one should consider themselves above the laws of the land
In Sirika's words: “While it is true that the Task Force on currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former vice president’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a senior citizen.
“These checks are mandatory, conventional, internationally applied and routine. No one is excused from them under our laws.
“These checks are carried out on all international arrivals and President Buhari does not get involved in them.
“Law-abiding citizens are encouraged to respect the laws of the country and our VIPs should not seek to be treated over and above the citizens they wish to serve.’’
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