Berate white paper implementation committee 

By Martin Opara

Orlu leaders and stakeholders have debunked the refuted of unlawful acquisition of government lands leveled against Hon Marcel Odunze a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and erstwhile lawmaker for Orlu state constituency in the Imo state house of assembly by the Prof Awuzie Committee on the Implementation of government White Paper on Lands and Related Matters, describing it as false, misleading and malicious.

According to them, Hon Odunze who prior to his election into the House of Assembly had spent a good chunk of his hard earned money to empower Orlu indigenes especially women and youths would under no circumstance condescend to or be involved in any shady or unlawful deal, what more unlawfully appropriating government land.”

“ It is to the knowledge of all Orlu indigenes that Hon Marcel Odunze , constructed and equipped a standard Information and Communication Technology Centre behind UBA, Orlu and handed it over to Orlu local government council which till date, manages the  outfit on behalf of Orlu people.

It is therefore either an exhibition of ignorance, malice or mischief for any person or group of persons to tarnish the hard earned image and reputation of our illustrious son for whatever reason in connection with the ICT Center.”

They also berated members of the Prof Awuzie Committee for dishing out such information to the public without conducting thorough investigation to ensure the authenticity of their claim public. Besides, their mandate is to recover the lands and other properties and nothing more”.

Others who spoke in the same vein, including Ichie Godwin Nnadi and Dr Ken Ikedi accused the Awuzie committee of not being thorough and meticulous in the discharge of such assignment stressing that they erred by not being sure of facts at their disposal before publishing or making such information which is capable of inflicting social, psychological and emotional trauma on victims of their error.

When contacted, a top management staff of Orlu local government council confirmed that Hon Marcel Odunze who constructed the ICT Centre and equipped with modern equipments and facilities as part of his constituency project handed it over to the local government council immediately after completion and has since then not had anything to do with the centre. He also wondered why members of the Awuzie Committee on the implementation of Government White Paper did not get in touch with the local government to know true position before indicting an innocent man who from all indication discharged his duty creditably unlike others who either misappropriated the funds earmarked by government for the projects or cut corners to enrich themselves.

Meanwhile, Hon Marcel Odunze who is also the C.E.O of Max Aluminum Company with branches all over the country in a letter dated November 25, 2021, which he signed and addressed to the Chairman, Committee on Implementation of Government White Paper on the Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Lands and Related Matters in Imo State (June 2016-May 2019) with the caption, “Got Station layout, Orlu (Page 270) stated.

For the past few days, I have been inundated with calls from family, friends and well wishers on widely broadcasted news of my involvement in ‘sharing Government Lands and Properties in Orlu while was the Lawmaker representing the LGA. To say I was shocked at such an indictment is an understatement. I therefore want to put the records straight not minding the psychological trauma such blatant accusation has brought to me and my family.

Sometime in 2017, the former Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Senator Rochas Okorocha approved the construction of an Information and Communication Technology Center (ICT) by house member in their respective LGAs as part of their Constituency Projects for the Year. Since there was no space right inside the LGA premises, the then DAGS Mr. Reginald Dike approved the construction of the ICT centre on a piece of land right behind UBA Orlu Branch, which fortunately belonged to Government. The project was duly executed and handed over to the Local Government authorities by the then Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs, Barr. Emma Ibediro and has remained a property of the Local Govt ever since. It’s therefore disheartening to have my name go viral both on radio, newspapers and most hurtfully on social media with the allegation of unlawfully acquiring government land. I wish to state categorically that apart from this project, I was never involved in any allocation, conversion, receipt or sale of any government land or property in Orlu. I therefore request for a retraction of this widely publicized anomaly to avoid legal implications.”