By Albus Dauda
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, was detained and questioned for hours by immigration officials at the Heathrow airport in London, United Kingdom, over dodgy travel credentials and suspected ties to illicit financial flows believed to be donations made to his unsuccessful campaign which he is now attempting to launder.
Sources briefed on the details of his hours-long ordeal with immigration officials at the airport told the publication that his entry, which was originally planned as a stealth escape after obtaining demoralizing facts about the impotence of his election petition, was monitored and eventually flagged by the authorities due to his long-standing designation by the INTERPOL as a person of interest.
The sources explained that Obi got into the cross-hairs of the INTERPOL years ago when he was implicated by the PANDORA PAPERS leak which detailed the former Anambra governor’s prolific money laundering and tax-evasion schemes. Obi was said to have operated dubious shell firms in multiple countries scattered across Europe with corresponding bank accounts created solely to receive kickbacks and funds diverted from various sources, including the public treasury of Anambra State.
He is also reported to have executed contracts using these bogus firms with the aim of avoiding taxes and defrauding the European financial reporting system. Some of these contracts are said to involve cross-border trade of alcohol and other household goods obtained from sub-standard sources hidden and possibly operating illegally. The revelation invites questions on the quality of the goods Obi ferried across borders from these deals, and many of which ended up on the shelves of the multiple chain stores he operates in Nigeria.
These, and other details relating to his non-transparent management of the donations made to his campaign in countries across Europe, raised suspicion about his trip and caused immigration officials to increase their scrutiny of his travel documents. The intensified scrutiny showed gaps in his passport and travel records, causing the officials to immediately detain and interrogate Obi, our sources said.
Throughout the questioning, Obi reportedly pled for the details of his interrogation to be kept confidential, noting the perception damage its divulgence is likely to do to his careful branding in Nigeria as a conscientious public servant. He also promised to provide details of his financial dealings in the UK and other European countries to the authorities.
On the management of donations made to his campaign, Obi was said to have shifted responsibility to his party, even though internal sources have previously described his authoritarian management style and sole control of all donated funds. Obi and a small class of easterners that joined the Labour Party with him from the PDP are said to have seized control of the party, isolating foundational members whose recent protest caused a leadership crisis within the party.
It remains unclear if the UK authorities will continue actions against Obi and whether or not his airport experience is the beginning of an intriguing dalliance with foreign criminal units which will likely result in a trial. But our sources insist that the Labour Party candidate is now shopping for other safe havens other than the UK and Europe, following growing apprehension that the wall is fast closing in on him.
It is believed that the explanation given by LP Presidential candidate is full of holes, most especially the impersonation claim. If he was being impersonated, the onus is on the police over there to apprehend the impostor not detain and interrogate the real McCoy,
Until then, fingers remain crossed .