Fresh trouble for Hope Uzodinma over $12m (N4.3bn) fraud

The last may not have been heard about the alleged $12m (N4.3bn) fraud case of newly inaugurated Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, as well as the travel ban imposed on him, as a group of Nigerians under the auspices of Concerned Minds for Niger Delta Initiative, has called on the Federal Government to continue with the prosecution of the governor.The group in a statement signed by the secretary, Mr. Badmus Omobola, in Lagos yesterday said going by the weight of the case against the governor, the EFCC should have no choice but to continue with the case so that Nigerians will come to the realization that the fight against corruption by Buhari-led government is out for fair play.Mr. Omobola recalled that the AGF had at a time taken over all cases handled by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Properties (SPIPRPP) which was led by Okoi Obono-Obla but dissolved in September 2019, adding that the Panel did a yeoman’s job without minding whose ox was gored. The group further noted that if the good work done by Chief Obono-Obla led Panel was allowed to be swept under the carpet, then it means there is a fundamental problem wrong with our system.Rather than prosecute and nail the accused to serve as deterrent to others, the chief Hunter (Obono-Obla) has since become the subject of investigation, which under normal circumstance should not be.It was even reported that Uzodinma who the panel dragged before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged non-disclosure of assets however insisted that the allegation of assets declaration was fallaciously contrived by the former chairman of SPIPRPP, Mr. Obla.One of the charges according to our findings read, “That you, Senator Hope Uzodinma (male) on or about March 5, 2018, being a public officer with the National Assembly, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence to wit: refused to declare your assets without reasonable excuse upon notice to declare your assets before the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Abuja, contrary to and punishable under Section 3(3)(1)(a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004.”But Uzodinma, said the panel, allegedly perpetrated fraud to the tune of $12m (N4.3bn) when he failed to execute a contract worth $12m awarded to his company by the Nigerian Ports Authority for the dredging of the Calabar Channel.He was also been arrested by the panel but was released due to high blood pressure he suffered in custody, it was learnt.Consequently, the Obono-Obla panel had relied in line with Executive Order 6, and therefore placed a travel ban on 39 alleged treasury looters including Uzodinma. The others on the list included a former Senate President, David Mark; and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.As Nigerians will not forget this particular case and the good and tidy job Chief Obono-Obla and his men did in a hurry, the group has therefore called on the AGF that took over the matter of Uzodinma in the first case, to reignite the prosecution process and ensure that the matter is fought to a logical conclusion, not minding any form of immunity.

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