An Owerri High court, presided over by Justice Fred Njemanze, have ordered for the final forfeiture of Royal Spring Palm Hotels, along with all the property listed in pages 226 to 272, of the Imo state Government white paper on recovery of Lands and properties belonging to Imo state.
OBSERVERS TIMES, can authoritatively report that the judgement was given today, the 9th of August 2021.
It could be recalled that a Judicial Panel of Enquiry on Land Use, set up by the Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha administration, and carried on in the spirit of continuity, by the Senator Hope Uzodinma administration, had recommended the seizure of several allegedly looted property from the former governor, his family as well as his political associates.
The Imo State government while implementing the white paper report of the panel, seized the Royal Spring Palm Hotels, the KOM University formerly Eastern Palm University, the Imo Broadcasting Corporation IBC Orji property, amongst others, allegedly converted to private use by Okorocha, his family members and political associates.
The former governor had approached a High Court, to stop the seizure of all the properties listed in the report. This is along with over 120 other court cases, instituted by the former governor, against the Senator Hope Uzodinma administration, to stop the implementation of the panel’s report.
The ruling by Justice Njemanze has in effect, vacated the injunction obtained by Okorocha, and given the Imo State government, power to go ahead with the implementation of the panel’s report.
The Royal Spring Palm Hotels, was built by the wife of the former governor, Mrs Nkechi Okorocha.
In his ruling, the judge held that Senator Rochas failed to give concrete and verifiable reasons why a final and absolute forfeiture order, should not be given in favour of Imo state.
However Justice Njemanze held that the suit filed by Imo state Government was not only properly filled, but was also a suplousage, as the white paper gazzette by the Imo state Government is a legal binding document.
Justice Njemanze concluded that there is no reason before it why the forfeiture should not be made absolute and final, To this end every property on pages 226 to 272 of the white paper has been forfeited to the Imo state Government and they can do with it whatever they deem fit.
As for those who had made purchase on such properties the court said they are at liberty to approach the court to prove their titles, however the properties as at today have been returned to the Imo state Government.
Justice Fred Nkemanze had on the 26th of February 2021 given an interim order of forfeiture urging Senator Okorocha to approach the court to show case as to why a final and absolutely order of forfeiture should not be given over the properties following an application brought by Mr Louis Alozie, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on behalf of the state government.
The properties to be forfeited include:
“Eastern Palm University, Ogboko;
Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments;
IBC staff quarters said to have been illegally acquired for the purpose of Rochas Foundation College,
Owerri magistrate quarters,
Orlu road/cooperative office/Girls Guide allegedly converted to private use housing market square,
public building plot B/2 Otamiri South Extension Layout given to the ministry of women affairs for establishing a skills acquisition centre for women, allegedly acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s all-in stall, Aba road”.
Plot P5, Naze residential layout, initially part of primary school management board but now annexed to All-In Stall, Aba Road, belonging to Nkechi Okorocha,
and all the properties contained from pages 226 to 272 of the government white paper on the recommendation of the judicial commission of inquiry into land administration in Imo state from June 2006 to May 2019”.