-Dares ex-governor to publish Bank detail before 2011

“What the Hope Uzodinma government is presently doing as regards the recovery of all looted and illegally acquired properties and funds of Imo people are issues of law and constitution.They are also in line with the oath he swore on assumption of office. He has no right to give out Imo property that he is holding in trust for the people. We know that he will not recover all but if he recovers 80% of what was looted, he will be commended. This will serve as a deterrent to others and make him know that he will also be probed after his tenure”.

Prof F.C Dike (SAN) Chairman, Orlu Elders’ Council, a legal luminary and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state stated this in an exclusive interview with Nigeria Watchdog newspaper over the weekend while rejecting the idea of plea bargain for former governor Rochas Okorocha who he said milked the state dry.

“From June 2011 when Okorocha assumed office as governor till he left in 2019, he collected almost N2.7b monthly as allocation for the 27 LGAs for 8years and did not account for it. We all know what happened to some of the contracts he awarded including the Njaba bridge and other multi billion naira white elephant projects”.

He regretted that, since the inception of the fourth republic, successive administrations in the state have always handled the issue of fraudulent acquisition of wealth and appropriation of individual and government properties with kid gloves, hence it has become a recurring decimal.

“The past administrations in the state ignored and despised the voices of the people and refused to do their will despite glaring acts of oppression, humiliation, impunity and attendant suffering and hardship. That was what led to the Otokoto crisis of 1996, when the people, in a bid to address the anomalies, resorted to self help. Because the first, second and third administrations were not probed, successive ones see it as a norm and continue to steal at the expense of the people”. 

He further noted that, “though Mbakwe, Udenwa and Ohakim are not saints, none of them went as far as Okorocha, who immediately on assumption of office, subjected the people to untold hardship, demolished markets, offices and homes in the course of his ill-conceived and poorly executed urban renewal program for which most people who could not bear the shock lost their lives.

Responding to a question, the revered and eminent lawyer, said, “I don’t know of any court order. But I know that the process of the recovery followed due process, being the recommendation of a judicial panel of inquiry and a white paper that emanated there from. I was also happy when I read the portion of the white paper which barred Okorocha from holding public office. The issue of recall being championed by some disgruntled elements does not arise as the clause that barred him from holding public office should be enforced to ask for his resignation as a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria.This is why our secretary, Prof Protus Uzorma during an interview with your medium,dissociated Orlu Elders Council from the so called recall of Okorocha.For now, there is no court order, if there is one, let him go to court and enforce it. One thing that is clear is that, no court will prevent a government from doing its legitimate duty in the interest of the people.”

Responding to the statement credited to the former governor that he was already wealthy before becoming the governor of Imo state, Prof Dike, said, Okorocha may have had some riches but was not as wealthy as he was when left office in 2019.

“Let him stop talking and show us his bank account before 2011. What he said about the present governor not having any property in the state is a plus for the latter who probably does not take delight in Okorocha’s style of gluttonous acquisition tendency”.

He also recalled that as one of these who were instrumental to Okorocha’s emergence as governor, on 27th May 2011, while Okorocha, Prof Anwuka and himself were discussing in Anwuka’s house, he advised the governor not to dissolve the 27 local government councils because they were creations of law, stressing that the best he could do was to set up a committee to review their activities. But they hushed him down. As a lawyer he refused to discuss the implications with them since they were not ready to listen to superior argument from the legal perspective.

“Rochas Okorocha knows nothing about governance, civility, due process and rule of law. When I observed these deficiencies, I left him after twelve  months to avoid being part of a failed system that doesn’t take advice”.