The United States Government has explained why it will not deny or confirm an allegation by a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, that President Muhammadu Buhari was barred from entering the US for 15 years.
Speaking through the Department of State, the American government also said it would not discuss the reasons Atiku is being denied entry into the US.
Two weeks ago, Atiku, in an interview with The Boss magazine, said the US had barred Buhari from the US for 15 years due to his religious beliefs.
The former vice president was responding to a question on why he avoided travelling to the US.
“It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America. I applied but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically.
“They’ve only said my application is going through an administrative process. This is not peculiar to me. For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of his religious considerations. I fly to different parts of the world, including Europe. If America wanted (to arrest) me, it would be so easy for them to reach out to their allies,” he had replied.
The Presidency had, however, debunked Atiku’s claim, stating that “at no time was President Buhari, as a private person, ever forbidden from entering any country in the world.”
In two email correspondence with the Newsmen, the US authorities refused to confirm or deny the ex-vice president’s claims.
When the US Department of States was contacted on Monday to confirm why Buhari was barred from entering the US for 15 years and Atiku for “administrative reasons,” a US official said, “Due to US privacy laws, visa cases are considered confidential. We do not discuss specific cases.”
Newsmen, again, sent another email on Tuesday, asking the American government whether it ever viewed Buhari as holding extreme religious views and if Atiku was free to apply for a US visa.
It also inquired how many politically exposed persons from Nigeria had been barred from entering the US since 1999.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have anything further to add at this time. Regarding questions about visas, due to US privacy laws, visa cases are considered confidential and we do not discuss private cases,” was the response of Nick Sadoski, a US official at the DoS.