Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, Ben Murray-Bruce in the US. Twitter/Ben Murray-Bruce

The Nigerian government has said the presidential candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has questions to answer when he returns from his current trip to the United States.

Abubakar left Nigeria on Thursday to Washington D.C., the American capital for a US Chamber of Commerce event after staying off the United States for 12 years.

Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, said the decision to question Abubakar is “following fresh evidence that he benefitted from slush funds that led to the collapse of Bank PHB.”

“The federal government has paper trail which shows that he benefitted from N156 million,” Mohammed, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents.

“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.

He said the government has proof of the account mandate, cheque and account statement showing Abubakar as the signatory to the account that received the money.

“We want him to stay in the US for as long as he wants but he has to explain to Nigerians when he returns,” he said.

Atiku’s entry into the United States was celebrated as some form of victory by the major opposition party in Nigeria after allegations that their Presidential candidate could not step into the US because of a fraud case.

The presidential candidate and his fourth wife Jennifer Douglas, an American citizen, were allegedly indicted in 2010 in a 328-page American Senate committee report for transferring over $40 million “suspect funds” to America from offshore accounts between 2002 and 2008.

Abubakar served as Nigerian vice president between 1999 and 2007.

“Ms Douglas helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States, including at least $1.7 million in bribe payments from Siemens AG, a German corporation, and over $38 million from little known offshore corporations, primarily LetsGo Ltd. Inc., Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., and Sima Holding Ltd,” the Carl Levin-led Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation said on page 173 of its report.

He has since maintained that he did nothing wrong.

He insisted he can be Nigerian president without visiting America, one of Nigeria’s most important allies.

In November, the Director General of the Atiku campaign organisation, Gbenga Daniel, says officials of the United States have hinted that Abubakar would get a U.S. visa if he applies for one.

“I can also confirm to you that in last few days that there have been signals from the American officials that he (Atiku) should indeed come forward so he can be granted a visa. So between you and I, all the issues are perception,” Daniel said in an interview on Channels Television programme, Politics Today.

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