A socio-cultural youth group in Imo State, Orluzurumee Youth Assembly (OYA), has approached the State High Court, Owerri, demanding the immediate recovery of the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko, allegedly converted to personal property, from former Governor Rochas Okorocha.
The case with suit HOW/585/2020, dated August 18th, 2020, which was instituted by one Celestine Uzoanakwe on behalf of himself and other landowners of the university, has been fixed for hearing on September 7th, 2020.
The plaintiffs, who joined the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, as the first defendant and others in the suit, also asked the court “to set aside and nullify any agreements of whatsoever nature” regarding the ownership of the institution.
The suit further asked for “an order of the court directing the first defendant (Uzodinma) to immediately take over the management, control and running of the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko for and on behalf of the people of Imo State.”
Shedding light on the genesis of the suit, Uzoanakwe said, “We were initially forced to donate the lands to the state government during Okorocha’s administration for the purpose of building the permanent site of Imo State University. But upon the completion of the school, Okorocha converted it to his personal entity and called it Eastern Palm University, Ogboko.
“This was done without our consent or any form of compensation. Okorocha also declined to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the lands, which belong to five different communities in our area.”
Also speaking at a press conference in Owerri, Engr. Christian Okolie, OYA’s Education Committee chairman, accused Okorocha of building the university with state resources, insisting that it should therefore belong to the state.
Okilie said, “What we see in all of these is the wicked machination of a governor who, after building a school with public funds, deployed the instruments of state power to convert it to his private property. But this move will be vehemently resisted.”
The Guardian gathered that Okorocha had built the university during his administration on the lands allegedly donated by his kinsmen in 2012.