President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, has branded the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and the Director-General of his campaign, Bukola Saraki, ‘low lives’.
The president’s media aide took to her Twitter account (@Laurestar)on Friday, January 18, 2019 to express outrage over corruption allegations made against Atiku, a former vice president.
“This cant be true! I know Atiku & Saraki are low lives but this low?” she posted.
Alongside the post, Lauretta attached text images that raised corruption allegations against Atiku. The former vice president was alleged in Lauretta’s post to have borrowed and then refused to pay back a N150 million loan obtained from Ecobank.
He was also accused in the post to have taken another N300 million loan from Bank PHB in 1998 to fund his governorship election, a loan that was allegedly cancelled after he became vice president in 1999.
Lauretta’s post also reported that, as vice president, Atiku used offshore companies to siphon millions of dollars to Jennifer Douglas, his fourth wife in the United States.
Lauretta also suggested that the only reason Atiku has not been arrested on his current trip to the U.S. is because he’s booked as an office aide to Saraki, the Senate President.
The rest of her post read, “‘We cannot apprehend Atiku NOW because of our diplomatic ties with Nigeria. He’s booked as an Office Aide to Nigeria’s Senate President” – US Department of African Affairs.”
She concluded the post by declaring that Atiku has “let down his supporters”.
The president’s aide has been notorious for several personal attacks on Atiku and Saraki, and was caught out making a false claim aboutAtiku’s inaugural campaign rally in Sokoto last month.
FG to question Atiku when he returns from U.S. trip
Atiku arrived in the USA on Thursday, January 17, 12 years after his last trip there. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had made a huge deal out of the supposed inability of the candidate to travel to the U.S. due to speculation that a secret indictment awaited him in relation to corrupt dealings with a U.S. Congressman.
He had been unable to enter the U.S. since he left office as vice president in 2007 as his visa applications were repeatedly denied until recently.
The APC had repeatedly taunted him over his visa troubles, a situation that could have fueled the jubilation that followed his arrival in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
While addressing State House correspondents on Friday, January 18, 2019, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the Federal Government is investigating Atiku for his alleged shady involvement in the collapse of Bank PHB.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revoked the bank’s operating licence in 2011 after it failed to show capacity and ability to recapitalise.
Mohammed said the Federal Government has evidence that the former vice president benefited from slush funds, to the tune of N156 million, that led to the bank’s eventual collapse.
He noted that the government has proof of the account mandate, cheque and account statement that prove Atiku was the signatory to the account that received the slush fund.
“It started from an internal memo dated 13 January 2009 asking that a draft in favour of Atiku Abubakar of 156 million should be raised,” he said.
Although he clearly noted that Atiku will not be arrested when he returns from his current trip to the U.S., he said the former vice president will have to answer questions over the allegations.
“We want him to stay in the U.S. for as long as he wants but he has to explain to Nigerians when he returns,” he said.
Mohammed also said the trip does nothing to boost Atiku’s chances at the polls because the election will be decided in Nigeria.
“We are not perturbed one bit. He can go ahead and get a U.S. green card. That will not save him from imminent defeat in the forthcoming election,” he said.
The minister had warned the U.S. government in November 2018 to be careful about granting Atiku’s visa application so as not to create the impression of endorsing him for the 2019 election.
While in the U.S., Atiku will meet with US government officials, the business community and the Nigerian community before returning to Nigeria on Saturday, January 19 when he’s expected to take part in a presidential debate opposite President Buhari, the flag bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Other candidates that’ll take part in the debate are Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) and Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN).
A total of 73 candidates will take part in the February 16 presidential election.