Former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha has been dragged to Court over Eastern Palm University, Ogboko.
Eastern Palm University, which belongs to Okorocha’s foundation, was built in the former governor’s hometown while he was serving as Imo State governor.
But an Imo group, Orluzurumee Youth Assembly (OYA), in a suit before an Imo State High Court, claimed the institution was built with the state resources and is praying the court to declare the school as a property of Imo State.
Other respondents in the suit, HOW/585/2020, are the governor of Imo State, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Imo State House of Assembly, and the Incorporated Trustees of Rochas Foundation.
The chairman, Education committee of the OYA, Engelr Christian Okolie told newsmen in Owerri, the state capital on Monday,
“What we seek, in essence, is a declaration of the court that the Eastern Palm University, which was (allegedly) built with state resources and all instruments of state power, is indeed a property of Imo people.
“We are also asking the court to hold that the management, control, and running of the University be accordingly vested, whole and entire, with the Government of Imo State, on behalf of the people of Imo State.”
He said that OYA was equally seeking fundamentally, “an order of Court, nullifying the fraudulent Section 3(3), (4) and (5) of the Imo State Law Number 3 of 2019, which are unconstitutional, immoral and wrongful, to the extent that they confer benefits and privileges on Rochas Okorocha as a person, his Rochas Foundation, his cronies and his proxies, in the ownership of Eastern Palm University”.
While describing Law Number 3 of 2019, as “infamous and anti-people”, OYA leadership also argued that “the law was hurriedly cobbled together and nocturnally consented to by Okorocha, in total abnegation and violation of his oath of office as governor of Imo State”.
Okolie argued that if the institution was not restored to the state that the wider implication would mean any governor in power would also use state resources to build a university in his village and privatise the same before leaving office.
Further noting that the National Universities Commission (NUC) in a letter to the state government dated April 13, 2016 recognised Eastern Palm University as the second state-owned university in Imo State, the 42nd state university in Nigeria and the 143rd university in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the event, the national president of OYA, Dr Sylvester Anyikwa said that the land was given to Imo State government and not to Okorocha.
He said, “We were initially told that the land was for the permanent site of Imo State University, but was later changed to Imo European University, vide Law number 20 of 2012. This law was later repealed in 2016, and replaced with Law number 13, which created Eastern Palm University”.
Anyikwa added that the Law number 13, “sadly changed the University’s visitor from governor of Imo State to Rochas Okorocha or any representative to be appointed by his Rochas Foundation.”
The matter has been fixed to come up on September 7, 2020 at Owerri High Court.