Obi admits making phone call to Oyedepo
Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi yesterday admitted that he phoned the eminent cleric, Bishop David Oyedepo.
But, the former Anambra State governor said he never described the February 25 presidential election as a religious war.
Also, Obi, who spoke on Arise Television Morning Show, relieved his experience at the Heathrow Airport in London, clarifying that he was never detained.
Obi has been at the centre of controversy, following the phone call and alleged detention at the United Kingdom airport.
The LP candidate had described the leaked audio conversation between him and Founder of Winners Chapel as “doctored”, adding that at no time did he “ever say, think, or even imply that 2023 election is, or was a religious war”.
Also, his spokesman, Diran Onifade, had explained that Obi was questioned for “a long time” and it took the intervention of Nigerians for him to be released.
Twenty five days after making the phone call, Obi admitted that he called the cleric to solicit for votes.
He said: “Call it whatever you want to call it. Whatever anyone wants to make of it. I am not a religious bigot. Do you think I can just pick a phone and say ‘religious war’? No, I was even begging the bishop to help me ask his people to vote, which was what I was doing for six months – begging.”
Obi added: “I wasn’t saying ‘catch him’, ‘kill him’, ‘force it’. I was even begging. That shows that I continued to look for votes by begging. There were so many things we tried to do but they were not okay.
“Let me tell you; those who have been trying to manipulate Nigerians have been doing it. But it is coming to an end. The people they have been manipulating are dying of hunger.
“They will soon know who is the religious or tribal bigot. I am not one. I have just given you an example of how I built mosques. Till today, no non-Muslim governor has sent more people to Mecca than me.
“I can never say it (election) is a religious war. Because it is not. There was a conversation. But I never said it was a religious war. What for? I am surrounded by people.
“If there was ever an instance where the presidential candidate and his deputy work as brothers, it is me and Datti. And I know and we never stop talking about it.
“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, we have a presidential candidate, running mate and party chairman who were born after Nigeria’s independence.
“We must save this country and he (Datti) knows my commitment to it. I can’t do all these with the background of religious war.”
‘I was not detained in UK’
Reliving his London airport experience, Obi said he was never arrested or detained by officials of the British Government.
He explained that British officials at Heathrow International Airport were carrying out a routine immigration check because his identity was alleged to have been compromised.
The LP candidate, who said he was stopped for a routine immigration check, contradicted his party’s claim that he was questioned for a long time.
He said: “I was never arrested, I was never detained. And I did not commit any offence. I was stopped for a routine immigration check because there appeared to be a duplication of my identity and all this lasted for a maximum of 20 minutes.
He added: “I lived in the UK from 1993 until 2005. From then till now is a period of 30 years. I have never been questioned, arrested or detained in any country in the world. I have never for any reason found myself being questioned for any offence.
“It was a routine immigration check and I was actually given all the due respect by the border personality that interviewed me, who told me ‘your identity has been duplicated, be careful’.”
Obi said despite once having a permanent residency in the UK, he chose to return to Nigeria, adding: “I was born a Nigerian. I will want to live and die a Nigerian”.
He stressed: “I have not committed any offence, so it was a routine immigration check, and it lasted for less than 20 minutes, and I was actually given all the due respect by the border personality, who told me that my identity has been duplicated.
“And I have a written document from the British government clarifying that I was never detained and that it was a few minutes’ routine check.”