The United Kingdom (UK) government has tendered an apology to the presidential candidate of the Nigerian Labour Party in the just-concluded 2023 elections, Peter Obi, over his illegal detention and poor treatment at Heathrow Airport in London last week.
The apology was tendered after it a British immigration official admitted he wrongly handed Mr. Obi a detention note in a search of man who impersonated him to commit perjury, forgery and identity theft in the country.
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British authorities said the uncomplimentary treatment meted out to the former Governor of Anambra State was “completely unacceptable”.
“Frankly, the Immigration Official’s action – has been appalling – and we are sorry,” Immigration authorities apologized.
Our correspondent sought further 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.
Obi was reportedly detained and interrogated for hours by immigration officials at Heathrow Airport in London on April 7, 2023.
The Head of Obi-Datti Media Office, Diran Onifade, also confirmed the development in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Obi-Datti media office said the former Governor of Anambra State was wrongly detained over offences allegedly committed by an impostor who is still at large.
The statement added that the impostor of Obi may commit various crimes that would lead to the arrest of the LP flagbearer in the United Kingdom for duplication.
The statement reads in part: “The Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi just back from London, United Kingdom where he celebrated Easter, has confirmed that he was harassed by London immigration officials and placed in detention but for the spontaneous reaction of Nigerians at Heathrow Airport.
“Obi-Datti Media office can confirm that 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 an immigration official who handed him a detention note and told him to step aside. He was questioned for a long time and it was very strange for a man who lived for over a decade in that country.
“Since Obi’s face was already an international frame, especially for Nigerians, Africans home, and in Diaspora who are likely to be Obidients, the people quickly raised their voices wondering why he was being delayed.
“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.
“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.”
The Obi-Datti Media office added since their candidate approached the court to seek redress over alleged irregularities and flaws of the February 25 presidential election, Obi has been under all kinds of attacks, adding that it was not surprising that he was detained for hours in the UK.
It stated, however, that Obi is back in the country and remain resolute as he is ready to suffer the pain and remain even more determined to pursue his “stolen mandate”.
It added: “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 Mohammad 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 Obi-Datti Media office will like to therefore assure oall persons of goodwill especially the Obidients that the rock is not deterred as he is ready to suffer the pain and remain even more determined to pursue whichever path.”