· Victims to sue ex-governor for deceptive tittles
· Prof Dike commends government’s action
The bubble has burst and the chicken has finally come home to roost, as the former governor of Imo state, now Senator representing Orlu zone in the national Assembly Rochas Okorocha whose eight year tenure was characterized by gluttonous and illegal acquisition of government and individuals’ lands and other properties is presently enmeshed in fresh trouble following the implementation of the report of the Justice Iheka panel on Lands and the White Paper that emanated there from.
It would be recalled that following lamentations of victims of Okorocha’s high handedness, ex-governor Emeka Ihedioha on assumption of office constituted several panels of inquiries, including the Justice Iheka panel on Lands and related matters which Governor Uzodinma inherited on assumption of office. After extensive deliberation and investigation the panel submitted a report from which a White Paper emanated.
Governor Uzodinma in whose tenure the panel’s report and White Paper were released, constituted an Implementation Committee headed by Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie, Former Vice Chancellor of Imo State University.
Sequel to the completion of assignment by the committee thousands of properties that were forcefully and illegally appropriated by ex-governor Okorocha’s family, friends, associates have been returned to their rightful owners, amidst resounding applause by Imolites at home and in the Diaspora who have expressed delight at the development which they described as a step in the right direction.
Commenting on the development a former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in the state, Prof F.C Dike (SAN) applauded Governor Uzodinma for revoking the lands which according to him will serve as a deterrent to other incoming governors. He also extolled Uzodinma for understanding that government is a continuum by not disbanding the panels set up by Ihedioha.
He further stated that, “Okorocha behaved in an unconscionable manner by allocating peoples’ lands to his cronies and siblings without following due process. Okorocha as governor of the state was Trustee of all lands.
“If a land is acquired for a specific purpose and the purpose failed, the said land should be returned to the owners because, it was initially released to government on trust. Assuming one acquires land on trust for a market or Public School and for one reason or the other, the purpose failed, it is legally wrong to convert the land to personal use.”
Responding to a question, Prof Dike said, “those who bought the lands from Okorocha’s allottees can seek legal redress in a bid to get back their money, while those who are sued can also sue ex-governor Okorocha eo-nomine (in his personal capacity) because what Okorocha did amounts to breach of public trust which is actionable. This will go a long way in sanitizing the system because it will serve as a deterrent to others who see governance as an avenue for self-enrichmentnt at the expense of the people.”
“By operation of the law, Okorocha and those he allocated the lands to who in turn sold the lands to third parties don’t have any rights over the said lands and don’t have titles to give to any person in respect of the lands. The titles they gave to their victims are deceptive because they are neither the rightful owners or beneficiaries of the lands.