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Atiku goes into hiding

Posted by By Musikilu Mojeed and Segun Olatunji on 2006/11/20 | Views: 1105 |

Atiku goes into hiding


The Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Sunday, remained holed up at a secret location in Abuja following alleged threats to his safety.

The Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Sunday, remained holed up at a secret location in Abuja following alleged threats to his safety.

But the Presidency said nobody was hounding the vice-president.

Abubakar had moved out of his residence on Friday following intelligence reports that security agents and soldiers might search the place.

There was increased presence of security operatives at the VP’s residence on Friday and Saturday, acting on a tip-off that Abubakar was holding a secret meeting, which could breach the nation’s security.

A source said, “Security agents were put on the alert that the VP was also meeting with the former governors of Ekiti and Plateau states, Chief Ayo Fayose and Chief Joshua Dariye.

Another source said, ”The VP had to go underground after he got convincing evidence that there was a plot to frame him up for undermining the nation’s security.

“You know the VP will have nothing to do with a coup. But his adversaries are desperate to close in on him and drive a nail into his presidential aspiration.

“They had written a script which they wanted to carry out last weekend. An insider who would have been part of the plot hinted the VP and provided convincing evidence.

”When the VP saw the evidence, he dismissed the plot, saying his life and ambition were in God‘s hand. But some of his close associates advised him to at least vacate his residence for sometimes and that is exactly what he did.”

He further disclosed that some of Abubakar‘s associates in the United States had reported the development to the State Department.

It was, however, not clear on Sunday what action the US authorities had taken on the matter.

The vice-president‘s campaign organisation had some months ago raised the alarm that there was a plot to frame Abubakar up for a coup plot.

As at 9pm on Sunday, Abubakar was yet to return home.

The vice-president‘s wife, Titi, and other family members, fearing that they might be hurt, had also gone underground.

Our correspondents learnt that Titi had moved to Kaduna on Friday, her base before her husband became the vice-president in 1999.

One of her aides said she did not indicate when she would return.

At the palatial mansion of the vice-president on Gora Road in the high-brow Malali area of the Kaduna metropolis, our correspondent observed the absence of the flurry of activities that usually accompanied the VP’s presence whenever he was around the house.

The building looked deserted with its gold-painted gates firmly locked and manned from the outside by three riot policemen.

A resident of the area who identified himself as Abubakar Abdul told one of our correspondents that it was difficult to conclude that the VP had relocated fully to his personal house in Kaduna.

He said that the street had remained ”so quiet like this for sometime now.”

When contacted, the Media Consultant to the vice-president, Mallam Garba Shehu, refused to disclose Abubakar whereabouts.

He said the vice-president could have retreated somewhere to “rest and perhaps reflect on the 2007 race.”

Shehu, however, confirmed Titi‘s trip describing it as a “coincidence.”

He said, “There is increased sentry at the residence by the security agencies at the Villa.

“I can assure you that the VP is very much around. He is safe and sound. If you are talking about any plot, I know nothing about it. We are focused on the 2007 race and we will not allow ourselves to be distracted.

“We are hoping that the VP will return on Sunday. He has nothing to fear because his hands are clean. His supporters should remain calm because there is no cause for alarm.”

He denied that the VP met with some governors, including Fayose and Dariye.

He added, “Does that not sound like a smear that the VP held a meeting with Fayose and Dariye? They just want him to look bad. The VP has no knowledge of where these former governors are.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mrs. Remi Oyo, said nobody or security agency was hounding the vice-president.

“Nobody is hounding the VP and he remains secured. The VP is entitled to his full security complement. He has about 300 security aides and nobody is tampering with them. Why would anybody be after him?

“If the VP is nowhere or cannot be located, they (the Atiku camp) must know something

that the Presidency does not know. Perhaps the President is under threat.”

She explained that the President was duly informed by the VP before he moved out of the Presidential Villa on Friday.

“The President was informed on Friday that the VP was moving out of his residence. It is his (Atiku’s) constitutional right to live wherever he wants.

“The vice-president is not bound to stay in the villa. But I can assure you that Aso Rock is protected and there is no threat to the VP.”

The Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Mallam Uba Sani, denied any plot to frame Abubakar up for a coup.

He said by raising such an alarm, the VP was only preparing the ground for his eventually move to another party.

Sani said, ”As far as we are concerned, there is no iota of truth in the supposedly security threat to the vice president. What is happening is that the vice-president is actually preparing the ground to move to another party. The only way he thinks he can do that is to blackmail the president and deceive Nigerians.

”We received the news of his going underground with shock. He has continued to enjoy the privileges and benefits of his office. Nobody is after him. The only thing is that he is facing charges of corruption and abuse of office.”

In another development, Aso Rock‘s Deputy Chief of Staff, who is Abubakar‘s most senior political aide, Prince Olusola Akanmode, has resigned.

A source said Akanmode resigned last week following pressures on him to dump Abubakar and support Obasanjo, a fellow Yoruba.

Akanmode is one of the staunchest loyalists of the vice president.

He was reportedly dropped from the list of those nominated for national honours this year allegedly because of his support for Abubakar.

With his resignation, the vice-president is now left with only two aides. These are his Personal Assistant, Alhaji Umar Pariya and Principal Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Nyako.

Akanmode was on Sunday said to have since joined Abubakar‘s presidential campaign organisation.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.