…aides issues conflicting statements hours apart
The trending audio of a leaked phone conversation between the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi and the Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church, David Oyedepo, has throw the LP candidate’s media team into confusion.
While the Head, Obi-Datti Media Office, veteran broadcaster, Diran Onifade, in a statement in Abuja, on Sunday, dismissed the audio as deep fake and a product of the propaganda machinery of the ruling All Progressives Congress, a member of the media team, Keneth Okwonkwo, confirmed the authenticity of the audio.
Okwonkwo’s statement issued in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle a few hours after Diran’s statement however explained that the audio was being taken out of context by Obi’s opponents.
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 South-West.
The Labour Party Presidenrial candidate was heard saying the votes were needed because the 2023 presidential election was a religious war.
He said, “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.”
The audio had attracted a firestorm on social media with some of Obi’s supporters insisting that the voice recording was saying it was a forgery.
Onifade had in a statement issued in the early hours of Sunday, said, “It appears the All Progressives Congress’ desperation to grab and retain power by foul means has refused to go away more than a month after they have grabbed the election as they planned.
“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 Portharcourt 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 Nigerians electorate not to vote for him on the basis of religion or tribe .
“We will therefore like to advice 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 election on forged credentials and even fake Bishops to stop faking. They cannot stop being fraudulent because that is who they are.”
But in a separate statement, a few hours after, Okonkwo confirmed the authenticity of the same audio but claimed it was taken out of context by critics.
He wrote: “Our attention has been drawn to the publication of this audio tape of 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 Christiendom because the politicians of the other party is carrying on this campaign as if it is a religious war.
He further explained that the traditional ruler of Offa, the Olofa of Offa, who is a Muslim, advised Obi to get the support of Oyedepo and be assured of his own support. This, he said, happened during a visit to the traditional ruler.
According to him, no Politician has ever visited the Olofa of Offa. It is clear to everybody that the APC political party that has a Presidential Candidate, Vice Presidential Candidate, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, 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 campaign train 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.” Okwonkwo added.