Nigeria’s foremost investigative newspaper, PREMIUM TIMES, has written the United Kingdom government requesting the details of the arrest and detention of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, by its immigration officials at Heathrow airport in London last week.
In the letter dated 13 April to the UK Home Office, the newspaper sought to understand the circumstances surrounding Mr Obi’s ordeals in the European country during Easter.
On Wednesday, the Head, Obi-Datti Media, Diran Onifade, in a statement announced that the LP candidate was last week detained in London by UK immigration officials over alleged impersonation.
Mr Onifade, however, said Mr Obi has since returned to Nigeria.
“The LP presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential poll arrived at the Heathrow Airport in London from Nigeria on Good Friday, April 7, 2023, and joined the queue for the necessary Airport protocols when he was accosted by immigration officials who handed him a detention note and told him to step aside,” he said in the statement.
He added that Mr Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, was harassed by the London immigration officials and placed in detention where he spent the Easter holidays.
The statement did not, however, highlight the necessary details of Mr Obi’s arrest and his subsequent release before returning to the country.
Similarly, the UK government has yet to provide any information surrounding Mr Obi’s ordeal in London.
Based on these concerns and its desire to accurately report the incident amidst unsubstantiated claims on the issue on social media, PREMIUM TIMES placed a telephone call on Thursday to the UK Home Office for further details on Mr Obi’s ordeal.
However, this newspaper was requested to write a letter formally requesting the details.
In the letter, signed by the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, it specifically sought clarification on Mr Obi’s offences, when and how he was released, the conditions upon which he was released, the current status of the case against him and other related issues.
“Our newspaper is interested in understanding the circumstances surrounding the arrest and detention of Mr Obi, including:
-details of when he was arrested,
– his offences,
– when and how he was released,
– the conditions upon which he was released,
– the current status of the case against him and
– whether he was arraigned and in which court,” the letter read.
LP mute on alleged offences by Peter Obi
Meanwhile, a similar request, among which include the inquiry into the crimes committed by the “impersonator” that led to Mr Obi’s detention as well as his current access status to the UK, which were forwarded to Mr Onifade, were left unanswered as of the time of filing this report.
Also, a check on the LP’s website by this paper also revealed that the party has deleted the statement issued by Mr Onifade about Mr Obi’s London ordeal which it published earlier.
No apology for Peter Obi from UK authorities
Meanwhile, the LP has denied reports that the UK government had apologised to Mr Obi over his “arrest”, “detention” and “harassment” at the London airport as claimed by his party in the statement.
“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 Mr Peter Obi, in respect of a routine Immigration engagement with him, as he arrived London for a brief visit, last Friday, the 7th of April.
“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,” Mr Onifade said in a statement on Thursday.
The LP spokesperson said while the party continues to examine any dubious or political motive on the part of the perpetrators of the identity theft, it had every confidence in the ability of the British authorities to resolve the matter to a conclusion.
“Mr Peter 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 25th,” the statement said.
The LP presidential candidate has yet to speak on his ordeal in London.
Mr Obi was one of the 18 candidates in Nigeria’s recent presidential election in which he came third.
The electoral commission declared the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, winner of the poll with over eight million votes against Mr Obi’s over six million votes.
The LP candidate is currently challenging the result in court.
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