Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Sunday denied media reports that he has dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for another political party to actualize his presidential bid.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has condemned the searching of its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, by security operatives as he landed in Abuja from Dubai on Sunday morning.

Atiku said on Sunday that the exercise was meant to “intimidate” him and his staff members.

Atiku will challenge President Muhammadu Buhari in the February presidential election.

Atiku had tweeted via his verified Twitter handle, @atiku “I arrived to Abuja this morning, to a search by agents of the state, aimed at intimidating me and my staff.”

The PDP, in response, issued a statement saying it “condemned in the strongest terms the unleashing of a special security squad of army, police and paramilitary agencies by the Muhammadu Buhari presidency to physically harass our presidential candidate.”

It alleged that the “Gestapo-style attack” was carried out “on orders from above.”

The statement said the agents “rushed our candidate… and attempted to physically manhandle him before invading his aircraft with dangerous weapons to conduct a violent search.”

It said the search did not turn up “anything incriminating” but that the agents “tampered with” Abubakar’s belongings including campaign documents.

The minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, described the incident as “routine” and said the process applied “to all international arrivals” in a statement responding to the claims.

“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 said.

Abubakar earlier voiced concern about tensions surrounding the presidential campaign, telling reporters his rival was “uncompromising” and “power drunk”.

Buhari, a 75-year-old former military ruler, was the first opposition candidate to win a presidential vote in the West African country in 2015.

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