Orlu elders back move to recover varsity from Okorocha, as court adjourns to November 10
By Emma Ndukwu
Elders and leaders of Orlu Zone have thrown their weight behind the suit seeking to retrieve the Eastern Palm University from Rochas Okorocha. This was disclosed by Chief Emeka Diwe in a chat with newsmen on Monday.
Reacting to the commencement of hearing on the suit filed by Orluzurumee Youth Assembly challenging the conversion of Eastern Palm University to private use by Okorocha, Diwe insisted that the history of Eastern Palm University is well known to everyone.
Diwe, who is the President-General of Orluzurumee Cultural Union, added that the leaders of Orlu zone detest corruption and impunity, and said they will identify with the youths in their quest to ensure that anyone who has abused public trust is brought to justice.
Present in the Justice Oputa High Court complex in Owerri on Monday for the matter were hundreds of youths from Orlu zone as well as members of the affected landowning communities of Ogboko, Obiohia, Ogwume, Umuchima and Umueshi communities who came in solidarity for the recovery of the university from Okorocha.
The matter was however adjourned to November 10, 2020 given the volatile security situation in the state.
Recall that Okorocha had built a university during his administration on lands donated by his kinsmen in 2012.
The case with suit no. HOW/585/2020, dated 18th August 2020 was also instituted by Chief Celestine Uzoanakwe for himself and on behalf of landowners of the university. The plaintiffs, who joined the State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, as the first defendant and others in the suit, also asks the court, “to set aside and nullify any agreements of whatsoever nature” regarding the ownership of the institution.
They also demand, “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.”
Speaking to newsmen, counsel to the plaintiffs and former chairman of NBA, Owerri Branch, LUN Nwakaeti, said the matter is a very clear one as it borders on abuse of office. The legal luminary queried the reason a sitting governor would use state authority to sign a law which directly benefits him and converts a public asset to personal use. He expressed confidence that justice would certainly be served in the end.
In his reaction, Uzoanakwe claimed that the landowners “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.”