The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property has released the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, after he was reportedly arrested last Sunday over an allegation of failure to execute a contract of $12 million for the dredging of Calabar channel.
Backstory: The Chairman of the Panel, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, said Uzodinma, who had been arrested on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja from Lagos had been released on bail.
Obono-Obla said Uzodinma was arrested over the failure of his company to execute a contract of $12m for the dredging of Calabar channel awarded by the Nigerian Ports Authority. He said Uzodinma had been evading arrest for about a year but was arrested on Sunday at the Abuja airport after arriving from Lagos.
“The panel is investigating economic sabotage against Senator Uzodinma arising out of the failure of his company to execute a contract of $12m for the dredging of Calabar channel awarded by the NPA,” Obono-Obla.
However, since his arrest, Uzodinma has been released on “humanitarian grounds” on the condition that he would return to the panel for questioning on Monday, November 12th.
Uzodinma has since asked to be allowed to meet with the Panel on Tuesday, 13th November, as he is reportedly seeing a doctor over high blood pressure.
The Chairman of the Committee has stated that the committee is “determined and unrelenting to get into the matter. The Calabar channel dredging project has been a conduit through which huge sums of money have been diverted.”
However Uzodinma has denied being arrested, accusing the Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha, of being behind the story.
“Their latest plot is this Calabar dredging contract. However, they should know that the company handling the Calabar dredging contract is Calabar Channels Management Company in which the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has 60% equity shares,” said the Director of Media and Special Duties of the Hope Uzodinma Campaign Organization, Declan Emelumba. “So, if there is anybody to be arrested for anything, then it is the Managing Director of NPA and not a minority partner, Niger Global, in which Uzodinma is a shareholder.”
Bottom Line: It is surprising that the presidential panel is alleging that Uzodinma who has been in the country campaigning for governor is on the run. This most likely has to do with politics. Uzodinma emerged as APC governorship candidate despite the preference of the Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha, for his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, to get the ticket. That’s not to say Uzodinma has no questions to answer. The timing though raises more questions.