Imo Governor, Hope Uzodinma accused of stealing $12m dollars, banned from traveling abroad by Buhari
The newly inaugurated Imo State Governor, Senator hope Uzodinma is dealing with an alleged $12m (N4.3bn) fraud as well as the travel ban imposed on the governor by the Federal Government of Nigeria, The Supreme Court had declared Senator Hope Uzodimma as governor of Imo State, a member of the ruling All progressives Congress, APC. But before his emergence as governor , In the case file now being handled by the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, in line with Executive Order 6, Uzodinma had been placed on travel ban along with other 49 alleged treasury looters. The Special Presidential Investigation Panel led by Okoi Obono-Obla now dissolved in September 2019 while Obono-Obla, is said to have seen to most of these cases including that of Senator Uzodinma. Punch Newspaper reports that Some others on the list included a former Senate President, David Mark; and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole. Uzodinma, according to 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. The Federal Government had banned 50 persons from traveling abroad over corruption cases. The ban followed a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari for the full implementation of Executive Order 6. The Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies had been directed to place the 50 persons on their watch-list, pending the determination of their corruption cases. The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement, had stated that following the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the Executive Order 6 (EO6), President Buhari has mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to implement the Order in full force. “To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high-profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases,” he said. He said the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, or howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes. “It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter,” the media statement reads. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, is also investigating Uzodinma for allegedly issuing a N200m dud cheque, however, said the new governor could not be touched because of his immunity. Uzodinma had also been arrested by the panel but was released due to high blood pressure he suffered in custody, according to Obono-Obla. The Obono – Obla panel had also dragged Uzodinma before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged non-disclosure of assets. One of the charges 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 as governor, he now enjoy immunity from prosecution according to the Nigerian constitution.