The Atiku Campaign Organisation has accused the Federal Government of "deliberately embarrassing" Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Candidate (PDP), by ordering a search of his plane on his return to Abuja from Dubai on Sunday.

Atiku had said the search of his plane on Sunday was an attempt to "intimidate" himself and members of his staff. 

In a statement released late on Monday, the campaign organisation had referred to a media report where it quoted the All Progressives Congress (APC) as laying foundation for the search by urging security agencies to "be awake to its responsibility of investigating the Dubai meeting".

The statement read: "On November 5, 2018, exactly a week ago today, the All Progressives Congress released an official statement accusing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of having strategy meetings for the purpose of moving 'illicit cash' into Nigeria and they asked the security services to investigate HE Atiku Abubakar and his plane. 

"To quote from the APC’s statement, the ruling party said: 'Our intelligence, anti-graft and security agencies must be awake to its responsibility of investigating the Dubai meeting. Cash and carry politicians must be prevented from moving illicit cash around to induce voters and sponsor election violence and rigging. Again, relevant agencies must check suspicious movement of cash both locally and internationally by politically exposed persons under the guise of a 'Dubai meeting' or any clandestine meeting'. (See https://www.channelstv.com/2018/11/05/apc-calls-for-investigation-into-atiku-pdp-dubai-meeting/).

"They thereafter asked the security services to search aircrafts belonging to members of the Peoples Democratic Party. 

"That statement evinced an obvious premeditated intention by the APC and its Federal Government to deliberately embarrass the former Vice President by invading his plane with security personnel and possibly to set him up for the crimes they had already officially accused him of in their statement. 

"The official denial by the All Progressives Congress and the Presidency of any hand in the ordeal of the former Vice President is put to lie when you examine their statement of last week which was clearly what was implemented against the former Vice President. It also shows that both parties have no credibility and will do or say anything to further their interests."

The organisation also referred to the statement credited to Hadi Sirika, Nigeria's Minister of Aviation, referring to the search as "routine", as an afterthought.

The statement continued: "The statement by the aviation ministry that the search of Atiku Abubakar’s plane is 'routine' is an afterthought that does not hold water for the simple reason that the PDP presidential candidate has been flying in and out of Nigeria without ever receiving such a treatment until the APC released their statement. 

"This event raises grave concerns about using government services for purely political purposes and what this portends for the conduct of free and fair elections in February 2019, and shows as hollow President Buhari’s promise to superintendent over credible polls.

"The Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation wishes to remind Nigerians and the international community that by Nigeria’s constitution, only the President can order the deployment of military and paramilitary personnel as Commander-in-Chief.

"That, combined with the statement released last week is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that what happened to Atiku Abubakar was not a routine exercise, but a deliberate attempt to intimidate him by those who have seen the political handwriting on the wall."

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