Members of the Orluzurumee Youth Assembly on Monday in their hundreds thronged the Justice Oputa Complex of the Imo State High Court in Owerri over the suit filed by the group demanding the immediate recovery of the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko, which was allegedly converted to personal property by the former governor, Rochas Okorocha.
Also present in court in large numbers were the affected landowners from Ogboko, Obiohia, Ogwume, Umuchima and Umueshi communities who had come in solidarity for the recovery of the university.
The matter which is before Vincent Onyeaka of Court 9 was however adjourned to September 29th.
Delegation of Orluzurumee Youth Assembly with Barr Nwakaeti
Recall that Okorocha had built a university during his administration on lands donated by his kinsmen in 2012.
The case with suit no. HOW/585/2020, dated 18th August 2020 was also instituted by Chief Celestine Uzoanakwe for himself and on behalf of landowners of the university. The plaintiffs, who joined the State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, as the first defendant and others in the suit, also asks the court, “to set aside and nullify any agreements of whatsoever nature” regarding the ownership of the institution.
They also demand, “an order of the court directing the first defendant (Uzodinma) to immediately take over the management, control and running of the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko for and on behalf of the people of Imo State.”
Speaking to newsmen, counsel to the plaintiffs and former chairman of NBA, Owerri Branch, LUN Nwakaeti, said the matter is a very clear one as it borders on abuse of office. The legal luminary queried the reason a sitting governor would use state authority to sign a law which directly benefits him and converts a public asset to personal use. He expressed confidence that justice would certainly be served in the end.
In his reaction, Uzoanakwe claimed that the landowners “were initially forced to donate the lands to the state government during Okorocha’s administration for the purpose of building the permanent site of Imo State University. But upon the completion of the school, Okorocha converted it to his personal entity and called it Eastern Palm University, Ogboko.
“This was done without our consent or any form of compensation. Okorocha also declined to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the lands which belong to five different communities in our area.”