An Imo State High Court Judge, Justice Fred Njemanze sitting in Owerri, has ordered an interim forfeiture of several properties, belonging to a former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, accused of illegally acquiring them between 2011 and 2019.
The properties include Eastern Palm University, Ogboko; Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments; IBC staff quarters allegedly illegally acquired for the purpose of Rochas Foundation College, Owerri; Magistrate Quarters, Orlu Road/Cooperative Office/Girls Guide, alleged to have been illegally converted to private use housing; Market Square, Kilimanjaro Eatery; public building plot B/2 Otamiri South Extension Layout given to the Ministry of Women Affairs for establishing a skills acquisition centre for women, alleged to have been illegally acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s All-In Stall, Aba Road.
Other properties ordered to be forfeited in the interim,are Plot P5, Naze Residential Layout, initially part of Primary School Management Board but now annexed to All-In Stall, Aba Road belonging to Mrs. 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.
The order was handed down following an application brought by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Louis Alozie, in a suit with case number HOW/191/2021 had Okorocha’s wife, Nkechi Okorocha, Incorporated Trustees of Rochas Foundation and Okorocha as the first, second and third respondents respectively, against the Attorney-General of the State.
In a motion ex-parte brought pursuant to Section 472(1) of the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law No. 2 of 2020, Alozie applied for interim forfeiture of the following properties alleged to have been acquired by Okorocha illegally:
According to Alozie, the application was, among others, based on the ground that, “these public properties were converted to personal use by the 1st-3rd respondents and their cronies for which the applicants now intends to recover them in line with the White Paper by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry’s report.”
It would be recalled that Palm Springs Estate, one of the properties ordered to be forfeited, was the subject of contention between the state government and Okorocha, leading to a fracas on Sunday for which Okorocha and some of loyalists were arrested.