Chidiebube Okeoma, Owerri
Fred Njemanze of the Imo State High Court has ordered a permanent forfeiture of Royal Spring Palm Estate belonging to the wife of a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha.
The judge also ordered that the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko belonging to the Rochas Foundation be forfeited permanently to the state government.
The justice, who is due for retirement tomorrow (Tuesday), also ordered a final forfeiture of all the properties contained in Pages 226 to 272 of the state government white paper on recovery of lands and properties allegedly belonging to the state government.
The properties which were not less than 47 were said to belong to the members of the Okorocha’s family and associates.
Njemanze held that Okorocha failed to convince the court on why a final forfeiture order would not be made in respect to the properties in question.
The jurist said, “There is no reason before me on why the forfeiture should not be made absolute and final. 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.”
Some of the properties to be forfeited are 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; and Kilimanjaro eatery.
Among others properties are Public building, Plot B/2, Otamiri South Extension Layout given to the Ministry of Women Affairs for establishing a skills acquisition centre, allegedly acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s All-in Stall, Aba road, and 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,
Addressing journalists at the court premises, counsel for Okorocha’s wife, Oba Maduagwu, SAN, said the order was an abuse of court procedure.
Maduagwu, who said that the “absolute order” would not stand, added, “We were waiting for the court to call us for adoption only for me to be informed that the judge had made an order for a final forfeiture of the properties. This order can never stand. We will appeal it.”