A cache of documents, including certified copies of records, affidavits, and court orders obtained by our correspondent, raises questions about the credibility of Governor Uzodinma’s educational qualifications.
Governor Uzodinma, who has ruled Imo state for over three years will be seeking re-election in the November governorship poll.
Before assuming the governorship, Uzodinma represented Imo West Senatorial district in the National Assembly between 2011 and 2019. During those years, the former federal lawmaker faced several court suits challenging his integrity and legitimacy to contest in the Senate.
While the outcomes of some of these cases remain unknown, recently acquired certified documents shed light on the controversial qualifications of the Governor.
Battle for Uzodinma’s certificate
One of the key challengers to the legitimacy of Uzodinma’s Senate seat was Ebubeagu Ekenulo, a renowned activist in the South East.
In a suit filed in 2013, Ekenulo requested the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos state to compel the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the body responsible for issuing WASSCE certificates, to release Uzodinma’s records.
Both the WAEC head office and the regional office were listed as the first and second defendants, respectively.
The activist said he needed the information applied for to commence processes of recalling the said Uzodinma from the National Assembly at the time.
Ekenulo highlighted discrepancies in the information Uzodinma provided in his nomination form submitted at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office and the one he mentioned in a newspaper interview.
According to the INEC form, the former Senator stated that he sat for his WASSCE exam at Mgbidi Boys Secondary school in Imo state. However, in an interview published in ThisDay newspaper in 2012, he claimed among other things that he attended Government Secondary School Etche in Rivers State and obtained his “O levels WAEC” there.
“Ekenulo, in a sworn affidavit, stated, “I instructed my solicitors to apply to the Principal of Government Secondary School Etche, Rivers State for verification of the information, and the Principal replied to my solicitor’s letter, stating that Uzodinma Hope attended Government Secondary School Etche from 1978 to 1981 when he dropped out after Class 3 and did not sit for the West African School Certificate (WASC).”
Furthermore, he instructed his lawyer to write to WAEC to obtain a comprehensive list of all candidates who sat for the certificate examination at Mgbidi Boys Secondary School to verify the authenticity of Chief Hope Uzodinma’s claims but the request was denied.
The 1st and 2nd Defendants replied to my Solicitors through their Acting Head, Legal Department, one S. o. Ojo Esq., declined to avail me the information applied for on the ground that “it contains personal information of their candidates”.
In the same year, Festus Keyamo also sued WAEC, seeking an order compelling WAEC to release to him the original copy of the West African Senior School Certificate of Mr. Uzodinma.
In a letter addressed to the Registrar of the examination body dated May 14, Mr. Keyamo had told the body that he had reliable information that Mr. Uzodinma did not graduate from Mgbidi Boys’ High School, Imo State, in 1982, where he allegedly obtained his WAEC Certificate.
“We hereby demand for the Certified True Copy of the WAEC Certificate (or SSCE result or WASSCE) of the said Hope Uzodinma, if any, within seven days of your receipt of this letter, pursuant to Section 1(1) and (2) and Section 4(a) of the FOI Act,” read the letter.
Court orders release of Uzodinma’s waec records
Following a lengthy court process, the Lagos State High Court, in 2016, ordered WAEC to provide the details sought by both Ekenulo and Keyamo.
The court, in 2016, ruled that WAEC is under obligation of the law to avail Mr Ekenulo the information he sought, adding that the body has contravened the Freedom of Information Act 2011 when it ignored, refused and failed to avail the plaintiff the information he applied for as required by law.
“A DECLARATION by this Honourable Court given the facts of this case and the law, that the plaintiff is entitled to be availed the information he sought from the 2nd defendant,”
“AN ORDER of this Honourable Court compelling the 2nd defendant to make available the information sought for by plaintiff to wit,” read the order given by the Presiding judge, R.N Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Group urges transparency
While it remains unclear if WAEC has availed Mr Ekenulo of the records or not, a civil society organisation in Imo state, Integrity for Governance in Imo (IGI), has urged the Governor to come out clean about his records.
Speaking on behalf of the group on Friday, the Lead Convener, Michael Okonkwo, said the concerns have lingered for too long.
He said; “How can we have a state Governor whose academic record is not genuine or is in doubts? He was also alleged to have claimed that he had a Higher National Diploma (HND) certificate from the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), a degree-award university. The people are demanding answers.”
The Group has also called on the ICPC to investigate Uzodinma.