Claim: Peter Obi’s legal team comprises only Igbo lawyers and is the same legal team representing the IPOB Leader Nnamdi Kanu.
Verdict: FALSE. Our findings show that the assertion that Mr Obi’s legal team comprises only Igbo lawyers is false. They are also the same representatives as that of Nnamdi Kanu.
Following the February 25, 2023, general election, displeased candidates have gone to court to challenge the result. One of these candidates is Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). Thus, the presidential election tribunal commenced its hearing on May 8, 2023.
On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, a Twitter user, Sarki (@Waspapping) in a tweet asserted that Mr Obi’s legal team are all Igbos and are the same people representing the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
“I heard all the lawyers representing Peter Obi in court are Igbos and are also the same lawyers representing Nnamdi Kanu,” part of the tweet reads.
The user also suggested that Mr Obi is tribalistic, seeing he had an all-Igbo presidential campaign team during the election, even in Northern states.
The user made these assertions mocking Mr Obi’s unified Nigeria goal.
As of Saturday, May 13, the tweet generated 206 retweets, 143 quotes, 1,149 likes and 17 bookmarks.
In reaction to this in the comment section, a Twitter User, Aisha Daraja (@PweedyTofer), believed this assertion exclaiming, “Ahafff, I knew it”.
Another User Dan_Borno (@DanBornoReal), said it is normal to have your tribal person lead your team, noting it’s the same with the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu.
“The senior lawyer leading Tinubu’s court case is a Yoruba man. It’s normal. But because Peter Obi’s lawyer leading his case is an Igbo man, it’s now a big problem. Your sentiment is from another planet. I wish you a quick recovery,” Dan_Borno wrote.
Another Twitter user Panaf Olu Ojedokun (@employlawone), countered the assertion, noting it is a false narrative as two legal team members are his classmates who are not Igbos.
The sensitive nature of issues around the election tribunal and the mixed reactions prompted us to verify.
A keyword search led to news reports by Tribune Online, The Guardian etc., containing members of Mr Obi’s legal team.
The list of Peter Obi’s lawyers, as seen on the copy of the petition filed on March 20, 2023, also shows members of his legal team are not all Igbos.
Also, the list published by the LP shows a mixed legal team, contrary to the assertion by this Twitter user.
Comparing the names of Mr Obi’s legal team members and that of the publicly named lawyers of Mr Kanu, which include Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Chukwuma Umeh (SAN) and Aloy Ejimakor, we realised they are not the same.
On a similar assertion concerning the Director Generals (DG) of the presidential campaign council of the LP, available reports show that Doyin Okupe was initially appointed the Director General of Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed’s campaign but resigned after being convicted for money laundering. Akin Osuntokun subsequently replaced him.
Looking at the list of the party’s presidential campaign organisation, it is also a mixed team with Northerners heading the North West and East region, contrary to the assertion by the Twitter user.
Our findings show that the assertion that Mr Obi’s team of lawyers and campaign DGs are all Igbos is false. These lawyers are also not the same as that of Nnamdi Kanu.