The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has distanced himself from a purportedly leaked phone call between himself and the founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide aka Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo.
An online medium had published the audio clip, prompting tensions between Obi’s supporters popularly known as Obidients and several of their political opponents, online and offline.
While Oyedepo on Sunday declared he had never campaigned for any politician or spoken to any group on their behalf, Obi did not speak publicly until two days later, when he responded to allegations made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
The LP candidate however took to Twitter on Wednesday to reject the authenticity of the audio, arguing that he consistently maintained his focus on an issue-based campaign, while pursuing a new Nigeria characterised by inclusion, justice, equity, fairness, and prosperity.
“I repeatedly stated that no one should vote for me based on Tribe or Religion, but rather on the assessment of Character, Competence, Capacity, Credibility, and Compassion that can be trusted to create a New Nigeria!” he said.
Obi denounced what he described as present attempts by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the APC-led government through some government officials and agencies to divert attention from “our blatantly stolen mandate.”
According to him, these have manifested in different ways, “such as the malicious accusation of the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, the circulation of a fake doctored audio call, and a pressure on me to leave the country”.
He added, “Let me reiterate that the audio call being circulated is fake, and at no time throughout the campaign and now did I ever say, think, or even imply that the 2023 election is, or was a religious war.”
While condemning the attempts to “manipulate” Nigerians, which he called “very sad and wicked”, the LP candidate stated that his legal team had been instructed to take appropriate legal actions against the online medium in question and others.
The former Anambra governor urged all concerned Nigerians and the international Community to implore the APC and the APC led-government to stop “their nasty attacks”.
He noted that his focus and commitment to lawfully and peacefully “retrieve our mandate to secure and unite our Nation”, among other aspirations, remain unchanged.
“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,” he said.
Phone Tracking, Leaking Allegations
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on Tuesday, refuted allegations of tracking and leakage of telephone calls, saying it does not and cannot carry out such acts by law.
It made the assertion after supposedly being inundated with enquiries on claims of telephone “tracking” and “leakage” by some individuals and groups on social media.
The commission’s statement comments come amid a controversial audio clip.
The audio portrays Peter Obi and Bishop David Oyedepo as engaging in a purported telephone conversation.
For his part, Obi, in a tweet, maintained his campaign was issues-based and not focused on ethnicity or religion.
‘I’ve Never Sponsored Anti-State Action’
Amid tensions over a purported plot to install an interim government, Lai Mohammed, the information minister, held a press conference in Washington DC, where he warned Obi to desist from stoking violence.
Mohammed cautioned the former governor against allegedly treasonable rhetoric, accusing him of failing to come to terms with the emergence of Bola Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
But Obi denounced the allegations as the latest in a series of consistent efforts to portray him in a light that is at variance to what he is.
“In the past few days, I have observed various campaigns of calumny directed at my person, with the latest being allegations attributed to the information Minister, Lai Mohammed from Washington DC,” he said in part.
“I have never discussed or encouraged anyone to undermine the Nigerian state; I have never sponsored or preached any action against the Nigerian state.”