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Fresh Posers Over Peter Obi’s London Detention Saga

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi is at the twilight of his many battles. During the Easter break, Obi reportedly received a cold London reception. He could not have imagined that an arrest was in the offing.

While the dust on the controversial leaked telephone conversation (now dubbed “Yes Daddy”) between Obi and the founder of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, is yet to settle, the LP candidate has found himself in another dilemma.

Obi, still smarting from his defeat in the presidential polls, is in yet another bind. It was reported that he was arrested and detained by the United Kingdom (UK)’s immigration authorities. For someone who has been to the UK a couple of times in the past, this must be really embarrassing. What happened during his recent visit? What actually went wrong?

The UK authorities run in with Obi has generated a lot of controversy; while Obi’s supporters condem n the incident, those in the opposition make a casual joke from it. The myriads of comments on social media platforms border on a passionate rationalisation of his arrest by UK authorities and scathing ridicule from opposition camps.

Obi was detained for questioning on Friday, April 7, when he arrived at Heathrow Airport, in London, from Nigeria. He was accosted by an immigration officer who handed him a detention note and told him to step aside.

For some observers, they argued that this scenario is weighty enough, it should not be dismissed, and as such called on the Federal Government to ensure that the matter must be thoroughly investigated and the findings made public. Nigerians deserve to know the veracity or otherwise of the back-story, and if there are issues, Nigerians must know as well.

Obi’s Presidential Campaign Council first raised the alarm that Obi was detained over offenses believed to have been committed by an impostor. Obi’s army of supporters has since risen stoutly in his defense advancing various shades of rationalisation for his shameful experience.

Interestingly, Obi has remained silent on social media, leaving his aides to address the matter. His studied silence has befuddled his supporters who hold him in high esteem. But to some observers, his silence translates to deep-seated fear and trepidation about what shameful news may likely result from his arrest and grilling by the UK authorities.

It is equally instructive that, Obi, known for his penchant for sounding off on social media, has deliberately kept his distance from several platforms. Apprehension about his fate has also been exacerbated by his reluctance to come clean about the incident.

While no official reason has been given by the UK authorities for Obi’s arrest, the news is rife that he was subsequently deported back to Nigeria after being subjected to a gruelling interrogation while in detention.

Unwittingly, the Federal Government has also kept deafening silence on the issue. Meanwhile, UK government agencies typically respond to media enquiry within few hours, but they have been unusually silent.

A popular local aphorism clearly captures these denials and silence — While wasps and bees are individually denying responsibility for stinging the farmer, the farmer’s face shows severe swelling. But here lies Obi’s dilemma — the sentiments created around his reported arrest has elicited different narratives and this has kept supporters running from pillar to post, all in search of an elusive peace for their principal.

But this is not the first face-off between Obi and UK authorities. In 2021, UK authorities struck off Next International (UK) Limited, a company largely owned by Obi for failing to submit its annual accounts. The company was removed from the record in September 2021 following a first and second gazette notice of “compulsory” strike off of the entity.

In the UK, a compulsory strike off is imposed on a company by creditors or by the Companies House for non-submission of annual accounts or failure to notify Companies House about a change of official registered office address. Once a company is struck off, its details will be removed from Companies House register and the company ceases to exist.

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