Feb. 25 polls: Plot against Obi, Labour Party thickens

Mr. Peter Obi, Labour Party presidential candidate in the recently concluded general elections, had repeatedly vowed, in the course of his campaign, to dismantle what he described a structure of criminal holding Nigeria to ransom.

But if the former Anambra State governor, who eventually came third in the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had any illusions about how deeply entrenched the structure he seeks to dismantle is, and how difficult it would be to dismantle, recent developments would have cleared such illusions…..CONTINUE READING

Not only did the ‘structure,’ eventually ensure that he failed to win the presidential election, which many observers said fell short of expectations, he now has personal safety, and the survival of his party to worry about, amid what looks like a well detailed plot to bring him down with the possible intention of forcing him to abandon the legal challenge he mounted against Bola Tinubu, the declared winner of the election; his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and INEC.

Obi’s Labour Party is now a divided house, riddled with crisis, which his supporters say, is being orchestrated by the ruling APC, and Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, but which the ruling party has denied, asking the party to carry its cross.

Recall that on Thursday April 6, seven members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), installed the National Vice-Chairman (South), Lamidi Bashir Apapa, as the acting chairman of the party, following a court order restraining Julius Abure, from parading himself as chairman.

Apapa, whose entrance into the fray, rattled Obi’s supporters, who accuse him of being used by the APC and Tinubu to destroy the party and undermine Obi’s legal challenge against the outcome of the presidential election, has continued to take decisions on behalf of the party. He has since reversed the suspension of members, who were suspended by the Abure led NWC over alleged anti party activities, in what many say is part of a wider strategy of bringing the party down.

“Political buccaneers surfaced from everywhere, seeking to reap where they did not sow,” said Prince Kennedy Ahanotu, acting National Youth Leader of the party, who alleged that the relentless attack on its leadership, targeted at destabilising it, was the handiwork of the APC.

“The first crisis was when a former Deputy National Chairman, Calistus Okafor, whose tenure had long elapsed suddenly resurfaced and attempted to hijack the leadership, but that was resisted,” he said.

“The courts punctured all his antics and permanently shut his evil enterprises. However, all hell was let loose when at the formation of the Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign Council, the name of the then National Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Arabambi didn’t appear as the head of media and Publicity of the PCC.

“That didn’t sit or sink well with him. All his efforts to force his way through were unsuccessful as his treacherous past manifested vividly and spoke against him. He then resorted to declaring war against the party and the leadership.”

Ahanotu further alleged that party members, who didn’t share the vision and the mission for a new Nigeria, unfortunately, played into the hands of desperate politicians, especially those of the APC stock to stoke crisis within the Labour Party in order to derail the party from pursuing its stolen mandate.

Yet, while the Labour Party continues to fight internal battles, Obi himself is facing mounting personal upheaval. His phone lines, sources said, have since been bugged by security operatives; his movements tracked, and lately, it has emerged that his identity may have also been duplicated for possible ulterior motive.

The LP candidate’s recent detention by immigration officials at the Heathrow Airport in London on April 7, Good Friday, over what the officials later described as a duplication of his identity, gave an indication of possible use of his identity to commit crimes in the United Kingdom with likely intention of setting him up.

Reacting to the London incident in a statement on Wednesday, Diran Onifade, head of the Obi-Datti Media office, noted that it took the intervention of Nigerians and other Africans, who began to agitate for the airport officials to reveal their reason for holding the former Anambra governor.

“The immigration officials, who were also taken aback at the reaction of the people were forced to reveal that Obi was being questioned for a DUPLiCATION offense meaning that someone has been impersonating him in London,” he said.

“The high implication of the offense is that the impersonator could be committing all kinds of weighty crimes and other dubious acts and it would be recorded in Obi’s name.

“Since the impersonator is still at large, the scenario is unimaginable as Obi could be implicated in a series of forbidden acts and even be framed in a manner that could be a huge embarrassment to him, his family, his party, the Obidient Movement, and indeed Nigeria, where he currently and indisputably remains the conscience of the people.”

He further said, “Obi-Datti Media office recalls that our principal has been under all kinds of attack, since the February 25th, 2023 Presidential election in which as the standard bearer of the Labour Party, he put up an outstanding showing coming third out of 18 contestants as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

“Even though his supporters and many other election watchers including international observers believe very strongly that he won the election but was manipulated out.

“Since he was told to go to court if he feels strongly about the election, which all international monitors chorused were flawed and full of imperfections and he accepted, there have been severe attacks on him from all corners.

“Even Federal Government who directed him to go to court even despatched the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, to the United States to attempt at de-marketing him and accused him of treason.

“Obi’s telephone line was also bugged when they were possibly looking for information to portray him badly before a section of the country who had voted for him massively.

“As if they were not getting the desired results of denting his image, and possibly placing the traducers under a heavier conscience load, they tried to persuade him to leave the country and go take a rest.

“It’s also not impossible that those urging him to leave the country may have planted the impersonators, ostensibly, to tar the Eagle’s immaculate appearance.”

The battle frontiers are widening. A number of news websites have since been set up for the purpose of spreading false information about the Labour Party candidate, and a fortnight ago, Lai Mohammed, minister of culture and tourism, travelled to the United States to accuse him and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, of treason.

The accusation had followed a statement by the Department of State Services (DSS) alleging that some opposition figures were plotting interim government by instigating protests and obtaining ‘frivolous court orders,’ never mind that only the government of the day and the armed forces have such powers to install an interim government.

“We want to tell those, who are heating up Nigeria and have now extended their actions to the diaspora, that they have started what they cannot finish because their actions in the UK will continue to hunt them,” declared Comrade Goodluck Ibem, president of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) in a statement on Friday.

“If they love this country, they should be thinking of how to allow the judiciary to either authenticate their mandate, which Obi argues wasn’t deserved, or throw it away. However, if they think they can go dirty, we all will roll in the mud and get dirty because enough is enough.

“They’ve done their worse by duplicating Obi’s identity, a move that placed his life in danger because it is obvious someone is impersonating him. The evildoers want to implicate Obi in all manner of dubious and criminal activities, and rope him into offences he knew nothing about. They just wanted to frame him up for any criminal act the impersonator does.

“People, whose criminal records are all over the internet, are desperately looking for a channel to create some criminal records for Obi so that, when their numerous criminal records are opened, they will equally point at those ones they created and hang on him, but they’ve failed.”

Obi, who has maintained that he won the election, had soon after the votes were announced, vowed to prove his case in court, while repeatedly asking his supporters to maintain peace.

But despite his insistence on taking the legal route to pursue his case, the APC led federal government, and its supporters have continued to accuse him of trying to destabilize the country; and of treason, and as himself has admitted, he’s being pressured to go on exile.

“There is too much suffering in this country, and, that is what we, in Labour Party, are fighting to end. There are many thieves in the country. So, Labour Party is fighting to create a new Nigeria. I am here with you, and nobody is going to force me to leave Nigeria”, Obi restated on Thursday at Onitsha Holiday Resort, Onitsha, Anambra State.

An allegation of coup plot to install interim government levelled by Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister and one of the spokespersons for the Tinubu campaign, ahead of the February 25 presidential election, had earned him days in the DSS detention room, during which he was grilled for hours.

Garba Shehu, spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari, had amid the controversy, issued statements on more than one occasion, to dismiss the claim, and Fani-Kayode himself would later admit that he made an error of judgment.

However, out of nowhere, the DSS itself, issued a statement on March 29, amid arguments and counter arguments about the outcome of the elections, ‘confirming’ that there’s a plan by some “misguided political actors” to form interim government on May 29.

Peter Afunanya, the DSS spokesperson, who issued the statement, titled, ‘DSS confirms plot for interim government by misguided political actors,’ said that the agency had “identified some key players in the plot for an Interim Government in Nigeria.”

Afunanya alleged that the planners, “in their many meetings, have weighed various options, which include, among others, to sponsor endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of State of Emergency.

Another, he said, “is to obtain frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations and legislative houses at the Federal and State levels.”

He ended by warning that while its monitoring continues, “the DSS will not hesitate to take decisive and necessary legal steps against these misguided elements to frustrate their obnoxious intentions.”

The DSS statement only helped to heighten tension in the polity, and made the post election debate, for the most part, about interim government and its plotters, and less about the shortcomings of the electoral process and legal challenge that followed, was followed with the release of an audio alleged to be a conversation between Obi and David Oyedepo, founder of Living Faith Ministry, in which he described the election as a religious war.

Obi has since dismissed the audio as “fake” and “doctored”, but the controversy over same has persisted, with routine media attacks directed at him.

Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed followed up by traveling to the U.S to engage international press, and during the engagement, accused Obi and Datti of treason, citing Datti’s claim during an interview on Channels TV, that swearing Tinubu in as president on May 29 would amount to ending democracy in Nigeria because, according to him, the former Lagos State governor did not meet the requirements to be declared winner of the election.

Many were, however, quick to call the minister out over the allegations, even as he was reminded that it was indeed, himself and members of his party that threatened to form parallel government as opposition ahead of the 2015 elections.

Regardless, Mohammed continued his campaign against Obi in London, where he met, last week, with media organisations and think tanks at the Chatham House, to, according to him, “defend the legitimacy of the just concluded general elections and correct the imbalance in the skewed narrative which had pervaded the air on the polls.”

The Minister boasted after his engagements in London that his trip was successful, and that he was able to prove that Obi could not have won the election.

“Some international media organisations and Think tanks have admitted that they were misinformed on the chances of the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, in winning the 2023 Presidential polls,” he said while addressing reporters at the Chatham House last week.

“We have been able to correct the imbalance in the reporting and we are leaving today with a better feeling. Most of the people we met agreed with us that they had been misinformed and they over-relied on social media hype.”

But despite the mounting challenges, Obi insists he’s not deterred, and will continue to fight his case in court.

“While we call on all concerned Nigerians and the International Community to implore the APC and the APC led-government to stop their nasty attacks, my focus and commitment to lawfully and peacefully retrieve our mandate to secure and unite our Nation, take Nigeria from consumption to production, pull millions of Nigerians out of multidimensional poverty especially in the North, and jumpstart prosperity through agricultural, industrial, and technological revolution remain unchanged,” he restated in a recent tweet.

“Elections are over, and we are in court to retrieve our stolen mandate. Let me reiterate that we are doing so through all lawful and peaceful options in line with our legal system and constitution, and I continue to implore all Nigerians to remain peaceful and law abiding.

“Those fixated with heating up the polity, creating divisions, tensions and hatred within and outside Nigeria should remember that Nigeria is our only country. Our focus should be on how to address the litany of challenges facing us, such as: flawed electoral processes, the parlous state of our economy, unsustainable debt burden, lamentable unemployment and inflation, insecurity, and multi-dimensional poverty. A New Nigeria is indeed POssible, and God will help us…..CONTINUE READING