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The United States of America recently imposed a visa ban on some unscrupulous Nigerian politicians who she claimed undermined the conducts of the November 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States. This move will serve as an open warning to other politicians in the upcoming September and October 2020 governorship polls in Edo and Ondo respectively.
In a confidential list released after the announcement, it was revealed that some well-known politicians like the former Governor of Edo State and ex-National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state.
Although this move was criticised by a few politicians and groups alike, the majority of Nigerians commended the act as a wonderful decision by foreign countries.
When talking about brazen attempts at electoral malpractice in Nigeria, the story of Imo state and the very controversial supreme court judgement of Tuesday, January 14, 2020, can come into mind. This was the judgement that came after the Supreme Court reversed the cancellation of results from 388 polling units in Imo State governorship election and declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma, as the winner of the poll.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the seven-man panel upheld the appeal filed by Uzodinma on the ground that Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not score the majority of the lawful votes in the election.
The apex court, therefore, ordered that Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be sworn in immediately as the duly elected governor of Imo State.
The court agreed that results from 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final results in the state Justice Kekere-Ekun noted that with the result from the 388 polling units, the APC governorship candidate polled the majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Consequently, the court ordered that the certificate of return, which was initially issued to Emeka lhedioha of the PDP, be immediately withdrawn by INEC, and a fresh one issued to Uzodinma. By so doing, the court set aside the verdicts of the Imo State Electric Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal both of which had upheld the election of Ihedioha by dismissing the petition filed by Uzodinma.
One might ask, how did Governor Hope Uzodinma manage to pull off the political heist of the decade? It can be explained with these following precursor events.
Governor Uzodinma had outsmarted the former Governor Rochas Okorocha and his Son-in-law and protege, during the party Congress and primaries with the express help of Ahmed Gulak, and former National Chairman of the Party, Adams Oshiomhole, to emerge the main gubernatorial candidate. He struck a secret deal with them that if he was made the gubernatorial flag bearer and eventually wins the election, he would grant a monthly release of about ₦500 million every month throughout his tenure from the Imo state treasury to Oshiomole, Gulak, and their cohorts.
However, there is a ruling by the Supreme Court, which states that Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law to the former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is the rightful candidate of the APC in Imo State. Uche Nwosu was later disqualified by the Supreme Court, for having the dual candidacy of the APC and AA in Imo State in the same ruling.
It would be recalled that Mr Uche Nwosu was declared the rightful candidate of the All Progressives Congress in a different ruling by the same Supreme Court sitting on the same Imo gubernatorial election. In its judgement delivered by Justice Adamu Augie on the 19th of December 2019, the Supreme Court of Nigeria said Uche Nwosu was not qualified to vie for the election being that he doubled as both the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Action Alliance (AA). This would then mean the court acknowledged that Senator Uzodinma was never a candidate of the APC in that same election and therefore did not participate in it. How then could he have won an election in which he was never legally a candidate?
Even Governor Hope Uzodinma is aware of the fact that he fraudulently got that victory which is why he himself referenced his assumption into the Governorship seat as the ‘Ben Johnson’ method.
All things being equal, Governor Hope Uzodinma should be a major recipient of the Visa ban on politicians in Nigeria.
Prior to his Supreme court stint, he had been involved in multiple electoral fraud acts. One of which is that he is barely educated and did not complete high school. He once indicated on social media that he is a graduate of Washington University in Missouri USA with a degree in Arts/Criminology. A questionable combination. Enquiries were made into his proclaimed dual degree and a quick call to the Alumni Affairs Office at The Washington University in St. Louis Missouri showed that his name was not in the database.
In the year 2001, Hope Uzodinma was fingered in a scheme to bribe the then former Head Of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar through the National Maritime Authority. This was revealed by a committee headed by Justice Oputa. He was also arraigned in 2005 and 2009 by the EFCC after he was awarded fraudulent contracts worth ₦250M by Dere Awosika and also for obtaining money under false pretence from SpringBank Plc. using one of his fake companies, Transurb Technical Consult Ltd
In 2013, the media was awash with claims by Senator Hope Uzodinma that he graduated from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), and that he possesses a Higher National Diploma (HND) from the institution. This was completely debunked by the management of FUTO as no such certificate was at any time awarded to Hope Uzodinma, and that the certificate he was parading was a complete forgery.
He was also arrested during the 2015 gubernatorial re-run elections in Imo State for thumb-printing ballot papers at a private residence.
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state is by every sense a corrupt politician, the United States Embassy would be doing some good justice if they extend a visa ban to him and some of his cohorts in addition to the travel ban already slammed on him by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Obno-Obla panel of investigation.
The Obono-Obla panel had in line with Executive Order had placed a travel ban on 39 alleged treasury looters one of whom was Governor Hope Uzodinma. Some others on the list included a former Senate President, David Mark; and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole. Governor Hope Uzodinma, according to the panel, orchestrated a fraud heist to the tune of $12m (₦4.3bn) 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 had also been arrested by the panel but was released due to high blood pressure he suffered in custody, according to Obono-Obla. The panel had also dragged Uzodinma before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged non-disclosure of assets after which he was slammed with the travel ban. Although Governor Hope Uzodinma now enjoys immunity from prosecution having been sworn-in as governor, it is unclear if the Travel ban still stands.
He is a well-known ally of the corrupt politician Adams Oshiomhole and together, they have ganged up to rig the upcoming Edo state gubernatorial election in their usual way. Slamming a visa restriction on him will go a long way in setting him straight, and equally, help to discourage many of his kind masquerading as leaders in Nigeria from pursuing such despicable act in future.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK