The last is yet to be heard of the controversy surrounding the arrest of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Imo, Senator Hope Uzodinma, by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP), following accusation of failing to declare his assets without reasonable excuse.
While the media office of the Senator representing Imo West, had on Sunday released a statement to refute reports that Uzodinma was arrrested, pointing out that “the story was planted by Governor Rochas Okorocha and his co-horts out of their dare-devil desperation to damage the image of the distinguished Senator before the Imo electorate who are poised to vote for him in 2019,” the panel has given a different account of what happened.
Chairman of the SPIPRPP, Okoi Obono-Obla, who spoke to Vanguard on Monday, said that the embattled APC gubernatorial flag-bearer was granted administrative bail around midnight on Sunday, after he developed high blood pressure in detention and pleaded to be allowed to report back for questioning on Tuesday.
“We don’t want him to die so we have granted him an extension till tomorrow (Tuesday) to report to us. We will wait for him, if he doesn’t come as we agreed before we granted him bail, then we will know what to do.”
Explaining further, Okoi Obono-Obla, said the initial agreement was for the accused lawmaker who was arrested at the airport at about 8:30pm by its operatives and was kept there till about midnight, adding that the panel granted him respect to report back around 10am on Monday for further grilling, noting that the SPIPRPP also conceded because it doesn’t have a detention facility.
“We don’t detain people as a matter of policy in our panel. But we asked him to report back by 10am today. When we did not see him by that time, we went to his house and laid siege there. It was then he started pleaded that he was not feeling well and that he will report to us tomorrow.
“We have already filed charges against him for refusing to declare his assets. He has tried to play some politics but we are not politicians and we have nothing to do with the politics of Imo state. But this matter has been lingering since 2017 that we started looking for him. He refused to answer our invitation,” he said.
“We sent about two invitations to the Clerk of the National Assembly but he did not come. So we went to his house and pasted our assets declaration form. That is the first step in our investigation. He refused to fill that form within 30 days as prescribed by the law establishing our panel. We now charged him before the Federal High Court. That one is pending. So if he said he didn’t arrest him, then it is up to him. But nobody will say that his mother’s soup is not sweet,” he added.
The Presidential Panel chairman also confirmed that Uzodinma is facing investigation for allegedly engaging in economic sabotage owing to failure of his company to execute a contract of $12m the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, awarded to him for the dredging of Calabar channel.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.