The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has distanced himself from an audio recording of a telephone conversation alleged to be between him and founder of Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo.
In the recording, he was purported to have asked the cleric to mobilise support for him ahead of the disputed election.
In a audio clip, Obi appeared to be asking the cleric to speak to Christians to vote for him.
“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,” he apparently said in the trending audio.”
Obi, who spoke through the Head, Obi Datti Media Office, Diran Onifade, in Abuja, yesterday, said the audio is fake and accused the All Progressivea Congress (APC) of masterminding it.
“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 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 Nigerians electorate not to vote for him on the basis of 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 election on forged credentials and even fake Bishops to stop faking. They cannot stop being fraudulent because that is who they are.”
Responding to the audio recording, Oyedepo said he has never campaigned for anybody while stressing that all political parties in Nigeria come to him for prayer and advice.
Addressing worshippers during service yesterday, Oyedepo explained that some persons were angry with him because he only speaks what God tells him to say and not what people want to hear.
His words: “I don’t speak what people want to hear, I speak what God tells me to say, that is why some people are very angry with me. Nobody has ever told me what to say in this world. I have never campaigned for anybody or spoken on anybody’s behalf, and I will not do that till I go to heaven. There is no party in this country that did not come to me for prayers, there is none, for prayers and advice. I advise them, some don’t take it; those who chose to take it, they see results, those who say no, they’re going about it.”
Reacting in a Facebook post, Valentine Obienyem, media aide to Peter Obi, has said the leaked audio was edited out of context.
“The badly doctored conservation with Bishop Oyedepo released by our Nnewi prodigal brother is the much they have discovered so far.
“They edited out the Muslim-Muslim ticket that led to the discussion, where Obi said that in a society like ours, religious balancing was a necessary consideration and that their recklessness had made Christians to assume it was a religious war.”
He did not name the “Nnewi brother.”
The APC fielded a Muslim-Muslim ticket, with Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima pairing to win the presidential election. The LP and Obi are in contesting the outcome in court.
Obienyem wrote: “I heard they set up a Committee made up of some Communications experts, headed by our prodigal brother from Nnewi. They are reviewing all calls Obi made in the last three years, and especially now to see if he mentioned Interim Government or anything that will make them prosecute him for treason when and if they take over. Till now, they are yet to see any.”
Earlier, Kenneth Okonkwo, a spokesperson of the LP campaign, confirmed the authenticity of the audio but said “political criminals are trying to spin the conversation as if the LP candidate was making a religious comment.”