Drama continues as Obi denies British govt apology over detention

The drama surrounding the harassment and detention of Labour Party’s (LP) flag-bearer in the February 25 presidential poll, Peter Obi, continued, yesterday, as the party said it was not aware of any apology purportedly issued by the British Government...
ABUJA, NIGERIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Labor Party candidate Peter Obi attens a ceremony as 18 candidates signed a pledge to ensure peaceful elections in Abuja, Nigeria on September 29, 2022. Adam Abu-bashal / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Adam Abu-bashal / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)
Peter Obi (Photo by Adam Abu-bashal / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

FG: We didn’t intervene to bail Obi out of detention

The drama surrounding the harassment and detention of Labour Party’s (LP) flag-bearer in the February 25 presidential poll, Peter Obi, continued, yesterday, as the party said it was not aware of any apology purportedly issued by the British Government or any of its agencies regarding Obi’s detention by immigration officials at Heathrow Airport, London on Good Friday, April 7.

The rebuttal was contained in a statement, yesterday, by the Head, Media and Communications of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Diran Onifade.

Onifade said: “We have been receiving enquiries with regards to a so-called apology, purportedly issued by the British Government or any of its agencies, to our principal, Peter Obi, in respect of a routine Immigration engagement with him, as he arrived London, for a brief visit, last Friday.
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“We would like to state emphatically that we are not aware of any such apology, and have not issued any statement whatsoever, in that regard.”

Onifade, in his statement, also expressed confidence in the ability of the British authorities to resolve the matter to conclusion.

“Obi and the LP/PCC have since moved on from the incident and continue to be totally focused on the legal processes before the Election Petition Tribunal towards the recovery of our mandate, which we are firmly convinced, was overwhelmingly expressed by voters, in the presidential election of February 25,” he added.

On Wednesday, Onifade had disclosed that Obi was ‘harassed’ and ‘detained’ by immigration officers at Heathrow Airport for a duplication offense, which suggests that someone has been impersonating Obi in London and who is still at large.

Onifade added that Obi’s impostor may commit various crimes that would lead to the arrest of the LP flagbearer in the United Kingdom (UK) for duplication.

The former Anambra State governor was also said to have been ‘rescued’ by his followers, known as Obidients, who were present at the airport.

While the British government has not issued any statement on the matter, a report had emerged yesterday that an apology was purportedly tendered after a British immigration official admitted he wrongly handed Obi a detention note in a search of man who impersonated him to commit perjury, forgery and identity theft in the UK.

The report quoted an unnamed official saying the uncomplimentary treatment meted out to the former governor was completely unacceptable.

“Frankly, the immigration official’s action has been appalling and we are sorry.”

The Guardian sought clarification on the development from the British High Commission in Abuja, but the head of the media unit of the High Commission, Dean Hurlock, said the mission does not make comment on matters of that nature, especially as it relates to individual issues.
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ALSO, the Federal Government was dragged into the incident yesterday an aide of President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, tweeted, implying that the Federal Government intervened in Obi’s ordeal to secure his release.

Ahmad wrote: “I heard Aunty @Abike Dabiri has done it for the Compatriot that needed her intervention in the UK. God bless you and the services you have been rendering for our countrymen and women, especially this recent one, ma’am!”

His tweet came on the heels of another by a former presidential aspirant of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adamu Garba, who asserted that the APC-led Federal Government facilitated Obi’s release from his detention cell in UK.

Garba, on Thursday, claimed Obi’s release was facilitated by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), headed by Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

In a tweet, he wrote: “Here is how the government of APC helped to recover Obi from his detention cell in the UK over allegations of travelling to the UK with fake documents. All thanks to Abike Dabiri. His campaign fake, manifesto fake, his motives fake, even his travel documents are fake. Why?”

But in a swift denial, NiDCOM denied reports that it intervened in the detention ordeal of Obi, after a fake photo posted by Garba had gone viral on the social media.

Spokesperson and head of Media, Public Relations and Protocol Unit of NiDCOM, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, disowned the viral photo, describing it as a stunt.

He said the NiDCOM boss, Dabiri-Erewa, was not in the UK and not in a position to secure the release of any Nigerian suspected to be under UK interrogation.

“Our attention has been called to the above social.media stunt which has gone viral. Aunty Abike Dabiri-Erewa is not in UK and not in a position to secure the release of any Nigerian suspected to be under UK interrogation. So, members of the public should disregard the information in its entirety,” the NiDCOM spokesman stated.
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