Hope Uzodinma is a Nigerian
politician who was elected Senator for the Orlu (Imo West) constituency of Imo State, Nigeria, in the April 2011 federal elections. He ran on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. His election was challenged on the grounds that he was not the valid PDP candidate, but on 5 May 2011 the supreme court declared that his election was valid.
A report in 2001 said that Chief Uzodinma had a business empire spread across the country. He had the ceremonial title of Onwa-Netiri Oha of Omuma in Oru local government of Imo State. Uzodinma was a PDP chief in Imo State and friend of the Governor Achike Udenwa until late 2002.
At that time he decided to run for Governor himself in the April 2003 elections, and decamped to the Alliance for Democracy (AD), becoming their candidate for the Imo State gubernatorial election. He was unsuccessful, and in February 2004 was readmitted to the PDP.
Uzodinma was a competitor in the PDP primaries for Imo State Governor in December 2006, coming a close second to Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.
Uzodinma was appointed a member of the PDP Board of Trustees. He was among those who endorsed the bid by Ikedi Ohakim to run again for Imo Governor in 2011 after Ohakim had returned to the PDP.
Testimony to the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Commission of inquiry in July 2001 it was alleged that Uzodinma had been involved in attempts to transfer money from the National Maritime Authority to the former military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar.
In 2005 it was alleged that Dere Awosika, a close associate of the first lady Stella Obasanjo, had been involved in award of fraudulent contracts to herself and to Hope Uzodinma, a friend of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Awosika and Uzodinma’s companies were said to each have received mobilization fees of two hundred and fifty million naira. Uzodinma was said to have refunded part of the mobilization fee due to mounting pressure from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.
On 10 February 2009 the EFCC arrested and detained Uzodinma. A public petition to the PDP on 10 December 2010 on behalf of a group claiming to be indigenes of Orlu gave reasons why Uzodinma should not be selected as Senatorial candidate.
It said that in 2005 Springbank Plc lodged a complaint with against him with the EFCC for fraudulent diversion and obtaining money under false pretences. The EFCC had filed charges, which had not yet been cleared. It also asserted that his company Transurb Technical Consult Ltd was effectively bankrupt.
Uzodinma won the PDP primary for the Imo West Senatorial race on 9 January 2011, gaining 2,147 votes, while the incumbent Senator Osita Izunaso came second with 891 votes.
However, on 5 February 2011 a Federal High court declared that Izunaso was the candidate of the party for the senatorial seat since Uzodinma had not been cleared by the PDP’s electoral panel headed by Orji Nwafor-Orizu.It seems that Nwafor-Orizu had been influenced by the December 2010 petition. The judge ordered the PDP to submit Izunaso’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) as the candidate who had received the most votes among those qualified to run.
A Court of Appeal issued a stay of execution on 17 March 2011 while the case was being decided, leaving Uzodinma free to campaign.On 5 April 2011 the Court of Appeal upheld the 5 February high court judgement and declared that Uzodinma was not qualified to run and should not represent himself as a candidate.
Uzodinma appealed this decision with the Supreme Court.
In the 9 April 2011 elections, Uzodinma received 85,042 votes, ahead of former Imo Governor Achike Adenwa of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) with 64,228 votes and Rajis Okpalan Benedicta of the All Progressives Grand Alliance with 57,110 votes. On 5 May 2011 the Supreme Court overturned the earlier decisions and declared that Uzodinma was the valid candidate and therefore had been elected.
The decision was influenced by the minutes of a 5 January 2011 meeting of the PDP’s National Working Committee that was attached to the April appeal to the Supreme Court. The meeting had overruled Nwafor-Orizu’s decision to disqualify Uzodinma and rejected the December 2010 petition, saying “there was no evidence that Chief Hope Uzodinma has been convicted for murder, armed-robbery, obtaining money by false pretense and or for bankruptcy”.-Opera News Hub Creator