The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that its presidential candidate for 2019 general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was harassed by security agents at the Abuja Airport on his return from Dubai.
The party made the allegation in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday in Abuja. Ologbondiyan alleged that it was shocking when the ‘deadly squad’ acting on ‘orders from above’ rushed Atiku immediately after he landed at the airport.
He alleged that the security operatives attempted to physically manhandle Abubakar before invading his aircraft with arms to conduct a violent search. Ologbondiyan said that the PDP completely rejected such violence against the person who is its presidential candidate.
“The PDP is for peace, and we will not accept this recourse to violence,” he said.
Ologbondiyan recalled President Muhammad Buhari as a Presidential candidate, had occasion to travel out of the country and the government in power never besieged or harassed him in any way. He therefore advised the government not to introduce violence in the country’s democratic space.
Abubakar had earlier tweeted that he arrived in Abuja on Sunday morning to a search by agents of the state, aimed at intimidating him and his staff.
“I am committed to building a Nigeria where no citizen is intimidated by agents of state, who are paid to protect them,” Abubakar said.
In a quick reaction, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the brouhaha over the search of Atiku Abubakar’s private jet, on arrival in Abuja, was merely a mischievous attempt to grab headlines.
Sirika shot back: “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. For the record, 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 immigrations, customs and other security agencies. They go to the arriving aircraft as a team.”
“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,” Sirika said in a statement on Sunday, 11 November 2018.
He explained that it was important to state that there were immigration and other security officials in the Presidential Wing of the airport, which the President of Nigeria uses. By standard procedure, he said that all aircraft on international arrivals must first of all park at the international wing of the airport.
“They can move to the domestic terminal only upon the completion of the arrival processes. 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,” he added.