The people of Ogboko community and kinsmen of outgoing Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha, may have begun to make good their earlier threat to recover their native lands on which the controversial Easter Palm University situates along the Ogboko/Umuchima areas. Lately, they have been protesting against the illegal take-over of their lands.
The incident which started on Saturday, May 11, 2019, saw many of the land owners and other claimants to the various parcels of land already appropriated by Okorocha for the establishment of the university, barricading the entrance gate and preventing workers from accessing their offices.
Reminiscent of the protest march embarked upon against Governor by indigenes of Umuagwo, who were protesting the purported privatization and the renaming of Imo Polytechnic to Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, the Ogboko landlords, placed palm fronds at the entrance gate, symbolizing danger for anyone, including Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who dares them by ignoring their outcries. They are insisting on having all those lands returned to then or adequately paid for since they were illegally and fraudulently acquired by Okorocha, using government instruments.
They explained that they had exhausted all patience in the course of recovering their native lands and stated that as soon as Okorocha leaves office on the 29th of May, 2019, they will do everything to recover their inheritance. They added that, it is but a matter of time before they recover such assets and that they are waiting for Okorocha to vacate office before they cut their own pound of flesh from a completely obdurate, insensitive and callous brother, who while in power, used his position to suppress his people.
Speaking at the occasion, their spokesperson, Chief Godwin Okwara said, “we don’t know what has befallen our brother and son. Something must have gone wrong. No sane person will forcefully acquire his brothers’ lands even when he knows they have no other place to farm or build their houses”. They contended that Okorocha must have run amuck and gone out of his mind, hence he acted under a spell or curse.
Also speaking, Mr Ezeibekwe said that as landowners, they won’t give up until their lands are recovered. He wondered how a governor who should protect and ensure peace in his place only ended up destroying his village and rendered them poorer”. In other places, people celebrate their brothers who ascend to such position because they help to develop their place. Here in Ogboko land, Rochas Okorocha has rather become a curse to us, instead of the desired blessing.
We shall know where he will run to having offended his kinsmen and the gods of the land. We don’t regard him because he wants us dead by rendering us homeless and subjecting our people to untold hardship”, Nze Ezeibekwe stated.
The establishment of Eastern Palm University has been a thing of controversy, first as Public institution, Public Partnership (PPP) and now privatized and allegedly ceded to an unknown “investor”.
The governor had in 2013 proposed to relocate the main campus of Imo State University (IMSU) to Ogboko in Ideato South LGA, his home town. When the Owerri people agitated, he quickly reverted the plan and re-named the University to Imo European University which later became the now controversial Eastern Palm University Ogboko, as if it was built with proceeds of Ogboko processed palm oil and kernel.
The Imo state House of Assembly led by Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim had after the governor had erected blocks of buildings which some persons argued were built by his friends without budgetary provision, only recently passed a bill allotting 95% share of the entire investment to an unknown Private investor on Public Private Partnership arrangement (PPP), while allowing Imo state government to access a paltry 5%, after public funds were used to erect all the structures.