Diran Onifade, head of Obi Datti Media Office, in Abuja says it appears the desperation of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to grab and retain power by foul means has refused to go away more than a month after the party has grabbed the election.
Onifade’s comment follows the leaked audio of a phone conversation between his principal, Peter Obi and Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church
The spokesman stated that the party would follow constitutional means to get back its victory at the presidential poll on February 25 and ignore the distractions.
According to the statement, “While we are toeing the constitutional path to retrieve our mandate, those who have truncated the wishes of the majority of Nigerians have recoursed to mischief and endless subterfuge to continue to hold on to what they know does not belong to them.
From the show of shame in Port Harcourt to the drama in the Ibom Air aircraft, both of which they contrived, they have now moved to the circulation of a deep fake audio file aimed at promoting religious tension in the country.
“All these are meant to serve no other purpose than egregious mischief aimed at demarketing Peter Obi. If the goal is to create a credibility problem, the ploy has failed woefully.
“Peter Obi has long been on record as the only presidential candidate who has urged the Nigerian electorate not to vote for him based on religion or tribe.
“We will therefore like to advise our beloved Nigerian people to remain focused on the task to take back the mandate we know was freely given to Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed through legitimate means.
“That is more important than to expect those who ran elections on forged credentials and even fake Bishops to stop faking. They cannot stop being fraudulent because that is who they are.”
Meanwhile, Kenneth Okonkwo, spokesperson for the Labour Party (LP) Presidential Campaign, appears to confirm the authenticity of the leaked conversation.
In the audio which was released by an online newspaper, Peoples Gazette, Obi solicited the support of Oyedepo to help get votes from Christians in the South-West.
The former governor of Anambra State also stated that the votes were needed because the 2023 presidential election was ‘a religious war’.
“Daddy, I need you to speak to your people in the South-West and Kwara, the Christians in the South-West and Kwara. This is a religious war. Like I keep saying: if this works, you people will never regret the support,” Obi’s voice said in the audio.
The audio had attracted criticism for Obi, with some of his supporters saying it was doctored.
But in a statement on Instagram in the late hours of Sunday, Okonkwo appears to verify the authenticity but claimed it was taken out of context by critics.
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He wrote: “Our attention has been drawn to the publication of this audio tape of a private conversation between @PeterObi and Bishop Oyedepo. It is not surprising that these political criminals are trying to spin the conversation as if Obi was making a religious statement.
“Firstly, the context of the conversation was aptly put by Bishop Oyedepo when he said, “All Nigerians have equal stake in this nation, nobody has the right to claim that he is dashing something to someone”. Peter Obi was simply urging the Bishop to help him push this message of equal stake of all Nigerians in the Nigerian project to his people and the Christendom because the politicians of the other party are carrying on this campaign as if it is a religious war. To drive home this point, he informed him that he visited the traditional ruler of Offa, the Olofa of Offa, who is a Muslim, but who advised Obi to get the support of Oyedepo and be assured of his support.
“No Politician has ever visited the Olofa of Offa. It is clear to everybody that the APC political party has a Presidential Candidate, Vice Presidential Candidate, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and National Chairman of the Party all from one religion at a time the CJN is a Muslim is the Party that has declared religious war on Nigerians and we must all rise up together to fight this unconstitutional act of religious intolerance of other religions by APC.
“I went around with Obi on the campaign trail and never saw him discriminate against any religion. Of course, he can’t because his Vice is a Muslim, unlike APC. I resigned from APC because of their religious intolerance. Nigerians should disregard any insinuation of religious bigots about this tape.”