Femi Fani Kayode has made multiple false claims about Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, ahead of the February 2023 general elections.
Fani-Kayode, who was appointed the director of Special Media Projects and New Media of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council in September 2022, made these claims when featured on TVC’s Politics tonight on January 6, 2023.
As one of the spokespersons of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign council, Fani-Kayode, made several claims against the presidential candidates of opposition political parties during the program.
Most of the claims about Obi bordered on his administration as Anambra State governor between 2007 and 2014.
Discrimination against Pentecostal Christians?
Femi Fani Kayode claimed that Peter Obi ensured that Pentecostal Christians could not build churches during his administration in Anambra State, adding that he discriminated against them.
This was as he kicked against the endorsement of Obi by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“When he (Obi) was governor of Anambra state, he ensured that Pentecostal Christians could not even build churches, only Catholics. He discriminated,” FFK said.
However, findings have shown that the claim is false as several sources contacted noted that pentecostal churches thrived during the administration of Peter Obi as governor in Anambra.
Fani-Kayode was echoing the claim initially made by a group known as the United Christian Youth Forum of Nigeria (UCYFN).
UCYFN had warned Nigerians against supporting Peter Obi in 2023.
In a statement issued in November last year by the President of the group, Peterson A Daniels in Abuja, the group said Obi would run a Catholic government if elected President in 2023.
“The United Christian Youth Forum of Nigeria hereby warn Nigerians to beware of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, who has assured his inner circuit that he shall run a Catholic government if mistakenly elected as President,” he said.
“He will exclude Pentecostals, Protestants, Muslims, Animists, Agnostics, and Atheists from having access to the dividends of democracy as if they are not humans. Yet, our Christian teaching is not to maltreat anyone on account of these differences”.
Our analysis revealed that the group is shady and faceless. Our digital investigation showed that the group was set up for political reasons, and did not exist until November 2022, when it made its first statement about Obi.
To further check the veracity of the claim by FFK, we reached out to several Pentecostal churches in Anambra State.
Churches contacted confirmed via telephone conversations that the claim was not true.
“Pentecostal churches were thriving during Peter Obi’s administration,” said a representative of Garden of Grace Church identified as David Chukwuemeka.
We also found no credible record of Obi’s government discriminating against Pentecostal Christians, while he was governor.
Non-Igbos were not allowed to own stores in Anambra markets
Femi Fani-Kayode claimed during his speech on TVC that non-Igbo persons were not allowed to own a store in Anambra markets when Peter Obi was governor.
“In Anambra state when he (Obi) was governor, no non-Igbo man could own a store in any of the markets there,” Fani-Kayode said.
Findings however show that the claim is false. Checks revealed that non-Igbos owned stores in Anambra markets even during the administration of Peter Obi as governor of the State.
Residents told CDD West Africa that there was no policy barring non-Igbos from owning stores in Markets during Obi’s tenure as governor of the state.
Chika Mbonu, one of the residents, explained that there were areas predominantly populated by non-Igbos, including Hausa and Yoruba.
She, however, added that non-indigenes were not allowed to be in charge of the markets. The positions of the chairman of main market associations were occupied by indigenes only.
There were media reports to this effect, and they show that this culture continued in the state up until 2021.
In December 2021, non-indigene traders lamented their disqualification from occupying the chairmanship position across public markets in the state, Daily Trust reported.
The traders under the aegis of the Non-Indigenous Free Minds Welfare Association claimed they were banned from heading the markets.
The chairman of the Association, Ezebusi Ezebuwa said the policy had been existing for years.
“It is not good for only one side to be controlling markets which were jointly built by all of us. Many of us have shops, we are traders in the markets, we also own properties in the markets,” he said.
“We cannot deny the facts that the indigenes are the owners of their State, but if one side continues to produce Chairman in the Markets, others would definitely feel cheated,” Ezebuwa was quoted as saying.
The president general of 5 Alive non-indigenes traders at Mgbuka Amazu, Okpoko in Ogbaru LGA of the State, Ifeanyichukwu Anthony Igwe, stated that the ban was against the constitution of the markets.
Don Adinuba, the commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment at the time, said that the state government could not indulge in any discriminatory policy.
Another resident, who simply identified himself as Dr. Ogochukwu, in a telephone conversation described the claim that non-Igbos could not own stores as a “blatant lie”.
Obi said he won’t condemn the killings in the South-East
Femi Fani-Kayode also claimed that Obi had said he would not condemn the killings in the Southeastern part of the country because he did not know those behind the dastardly acts.
He said Obi has refused to condemn those that are killing “innocent people” and “security agents” in the “East known as unknown gunmen.”
“And when he was asked if he would condemn them (killings), he said he won’t condemn it because he doesn’t know who is behind it,” Kayode said.
Our findings show that the claim is misleading.
Femi Kayode was referring to Peter Obi’s appearance at The Candidates Presidential Town Hall Series, which aired on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in November 2022.
When asked if he would condemn the Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the killings and attacks in the South East, the former Anambra governor said he could not condemn the group as he didn’t know who was doing what.
He added that he could not just be condemning anybody with no facts to establish a position.
“No, I cannot condemn (ESN) because I am not sure who is doing what…You can only condemn people when there is a process that has said this person has done this,” Obi said.
This shows that Peter Obi actually said he could not condemn the ESN for the attacks and not that he could not condemn the attacks as Fani-Kayode claimed.
Peter Obi had in October 2021 condemned the attacks in the South East as he called for urgent intervention over the rising level of insecurity in the region.
Also in May 2022, he expressed concerns over the incessant killings in the South East. “These violent and abhorrent killings are damnable and unacceptable!” he said.