By Temitope Owotoki
Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated President Donald Trump of the United States following the report of the special investigation panel on the US 2016 presidential elections, which found no Russian collusion in the polls.
Trump, of the Republican Party, was accused by the opposition Democratic Party of enlisting Russian hackers and other criminals to manipulate the outcome of the November 2016 presidential elections in his favour.
“I congratulate President @realDonaldTrump on his vindication by the Robert Mueller report,” Atiku tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
“It is my hope that the lifting of this cloud will give room for further successes by the 45th President of the United States.”
The former vice-president, who has challenged the outcome of the 2019 presidential election against President Muhammadu Buhari in court, longed for an era when Nigeria can emulate the rigour of the American system in unravelling a political crisis.
“I trust Nigeria can learn from the application of rigorous due process to get to the truth of our current challenges. Congratulations once again,” Atiku said.
An independent panel was ultimately raised in 2017 to look into the allegations of Russian meddlesomeness in the 2016 US presidentialn elections, and was headed by Robert Mueller, a former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In the course of investigations, the top detective closed in on several of Mr Trump’s allies.
Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager of Trump, and Michael Flynn, whom Trump appointed as a national security adviser shortly after assuming office in January 2016, were amongst the top associates of the president arrested on Mueller’s findings.
However, their cases, even though they stemmed from the larger collusion investigation, were completely unrelated to the collusion itself.
Manafort was prosecuted for questionable business ties with Russians and Ukrainians in his personal capacity and years before the 2016 campaign.
At least 37 persons were indicted by Mueller’s panel, which included top FBI investigators and government prosecutors, and hundreds of subpoenas also went out.
In the final report which Mueller submitted to Attorney-General William Barr, the special counsel found that neither Trump nor anyone in his campaign colluded with Russians to alter the 2016 elections.
Mueller, however, said he was unable to clear Mr Trump of obstruction of justice, even as he was unable to indict him of committing such offence, either.
Trump quickly hailed the findings as a “total exoneration” of alleged collusion and descended on Democrats for allegedly lying to Americans for so long.
Trump’s supporters said the decision by Mueller not to indict or exonerate the president on obstruction of justice was in itself a satisfying decision that favoured the president.
Barr, who made a four-page excerpt of the report public on Sunday, said Mr Trump cannot be charged for obstruction of justice based on the entire document submitted by Mr Mueller.
The outcome jolted the Democrats, who immediately waved it off as largely opening the path for over a dozen investigations already ongoing against Trump than an absolute exoneration of the president.
The Democrats argued that Trump would be hurt by those investigations at the 2020 presidential elections after the president’s supporters suggested that Mueller’s exoneration had handed him an easy second term.
Trump is facing charges, including those targeting his tax filings, in some American jurisdiction, especially New York.
By Temitope Owotoki