v  Drag governor, Okorocha,3 others to court

By Martin Opara

Orluzurumee Youth Assembly, (OYA) comprising youths of the 12 local government areas of Orlu zone, have dragged Governor Hope Uzodinma, former Governor Rochas Okorocha, Imo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Imo State House of Assembly and the incorporated Trustees of Rochas Foundation College to an Owerri High Court, in their relentless effort to ensure that the ownership and Eastern Palm University is restored to Imo people whose funds were lavishly invested in building the institution.

This is contained in a release dated 22nd August issued and signed by Engr. Christian Okolie and Collins Opuruzor, Chairman and Spokes person of the group respectively during their World press conference, held at their National Secretariate at Orlu.

The group, expressed disgust at the governor’s distributing and questionable silence, which they see as not only suspicious, and worrisome but give the impression that Governor Hope Uzodinma does not intend to and is not willing “to reclaim the university from the stranglehold, of Rochas Okorocha. They noted that, they had before now, made fruitless concerted efforts to make Governor Uzodinma to see reason and act decisively towards reverting Rochas  Okorocha’s avaricious, shameful and fraudulent acquisition of Eastern Palm University, to the detriment of Imo people whose funds were used in building the university.

OYA regretted that, the governor, despite their persuasive representations has, for some inexplicable reasons remained silent and refused to address or comment on the issue since then. Hence they instituted an action to seek a declaration of court that Eastern Palm University that was built with state funds, complimented with the apparatus of state power rightly belongs to Imo people and that the management, control and running of its affairs be accordingly vested wholly and entirely with the Imo state government, on behalf of Imo people.

“We seek more fundamentally, an order of court, nullifying the fraudulent section 3(3), (4) and (5) of Imo State Law No. 3 of 2019, which are unconstitutional, immoral, wrongful and to the extent that they confer benefits and undue privileges on Rochas Okorocha as a person, his Rochas Foundation, his cronies and proxies in the ownership of Eastern Palm University. This infamous and anti people law was hurriedly and desperately concocted, and nocturnally accented to by Rochas Okorocha in flagrant disregard of his oath of office as governor of Imo State through the instrumentality of a docile and rubber stamp legislature that consists mainly of spineless Alleluia Boys”.

The youths also noted that Eastern Palm University was recognized by the National University Commission (NUC) in a letter dated 13th April 2016, as Imo State’s second university, Nigeria’s 143rd university, while the land on which it is built at Ogboko, was revoked by Okorocha’s son-inlaw, Uche Nwosu, who was then Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, purportedly for relocating a campus of Imo State University, Owerri, to Ogboko. 

They pointed out that, Imo State land No. 20 of 2012 which established the university as Imo European University and as a bonafide property of Imo State was fraudulently repealed in 2016 and replaced with Law No. 131 which created the name, “Eastern Palm University”. In Imo State, Law No. 7 of 2018, Okorocha in line with his obnoxious antics, changed the Visitor to the university from “Governor of Imo State, to himself as Rochas Okorocha or any representative appointed by his Rochas Foundation, while Law No. 3 of 2019, almost made him and his Rochas Foundation, sole owners of the institution, with 90% stake, under a fictitious Memorandum of Understanding.

As the suit No HOW/585/2020 instituted by OYA and Chief Celestine Uzoanakwe for himself and on behalf of all the landlords who donated lands for the building of Eastern Palm University as plaintiffs, comes up on September 7th 2020, the Governor, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Imo State House of Assembly, the Incorporated Trustees of Rochas Foundation and Senator Anayo Rochas Okorocha Imo State were according to the originating summons dated 18th September 2020, told to cause appearance to be entered for them, within 21 days, from the date of service. Among other prayers of OYA are;whether the Governor by virtue of the executive powers conferred on him by section 5 9(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, empowers him to take action or steps that confer benefits on himself, his company or foundation.

Whether section 3(3), (4) and (5) of the Imo State of Nigeria Law No. 3 of 2019 is not unconstitutional, as the provisions under it, amount to a breach of trust, and abuse of power by the 5th defendant, the then executive governor of Imo State whether in view of 2 above, all instruments, agreements, actions or steps taken in respect of the public partnership agreement are not ipso facto illegal, null and void and of no effect. The group also, asked the court to declare that the former governor erred by assenting to Law No.3 of 2019 which confers exclusive privilege right and/or benefit to the 5th defendant, Rochas foundation, a property promoted and owned by him as immoral wrongful, and unconstitutional “as it is not only a breach of trust but also an abuse of office/power of the governor of a state”.