On Friday, the UK immigration officials reportedly detained Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, for hours and questioned him after his British Airways flight arrived at Heathrow Airport.
This was disclosed on Wednesday by Prof Chinyere Okunna, a renowned Mass Communications scholar, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Paul University Awka, and Obi’s confidant.
Okunna, who worked with Obi in various capacities, stated that the former governor narrated the ordeal to her in private and expressed distress about the situation, which he believed was designed to hound and force him out of Nigeria.
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Okunna said: “I suppose he told me all this confidentially. My very sincere apologies, Your Excellency, for ‘breaking’ this confidentiality, but History beckons and I CANNOT KEEP QUIET.
“Obi spoke to me at the Official Opening of the Specialist Hospital of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters, Nkpor (on Tuesday). He had arrived at the event after flying in from London.
“I actually had no idea he had travelled out of the country, until the ovation over his presence in a London Church went viral on the Internet.
“He arrived at Heathrow Airport and joined the usual queue to pass through Immigration, and that was when his ordeal began.
“He was stopped and questioned for a long time and subsequently handed a detention note and told to wait for further interrogation and investigation.
“This was terribly unusual for a man who had lived honourably in the UK for a long time.
“In the face of this harassment, some well-meaning Nigerians, knowing who he is, raised their voices in protest, demanding to know why he was being treated that way.”
Okunna revealed that in the face of seeming protest by some Nigerians, the immigration officials revealed that someone was impersonating Obi in the country.
“The shocking revelation by the Immigration Officer was that his (Obi’s) identity ‘was duplicated’. This revelation has definitely set off alarm bells.
“For people who are knowledgeable about such matters, this is a very dangerous development because the implication is that someone is impersonating Peter Obi.
“And that someone could implicate Obi in all manner of dubious and even criminal activities, and rope him into any number of offences; he could get Obi framed for one criminal act or another. The frightening scenario of what can happen is unimaginable!!!
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“This is the height of it all for a man who has been under sundry intimidation and emotional torture: Bugging of his phone and those of his wife and children; keeping him constantly under surveillance; calling him names; putting him under severe pressure to leave (run away from) the country; wrongly accusing him of negative things he knows absolutely nothing about, etc.
“As he was telling me his ‘Heathrow tale of woe’ at Nkpor today, I could see a man who was in severe pain and under unbearable stress, who many would expect to be at the point of despair.
“But, as he confirmed, he is ready to suffer this pain and is as determined as ever to pursue the path which he has chosen to enable him arrive at the destination which well-meaning people in Nigeria and far far beyond are expecting him to arrive at.”