A State High Court sitting in Owerri, on Monday, ordered the final and absolute forfeiture of Royal Palm Springs Hotel and other properties said to belong to the former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha and other members of his family.
The properties to be forfeited were contained on pages 226 to 272 of the Imo state Government white paper report by the Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Recovery of Lands and other related matters, constituted by the former governor of the state, Emeka Ihedioha, who was unseated by the Supreme Court.
Justice Fred Njemanze, who was sitting as a vacation judge, ruled that Okorocha’s counsel failed to give concrete and verifiable reasons why a final and absolute forfeiture order should not be given in favour of the state government.
Also, the Justice noted that the suit filed against the Imo state Government by Okorocha’s counsel was not properly filed, describing it as a surplusage, a term in law, which means a useless statement completely irrelevant to a matter.
Justice Njemanze maintained that the white paper gazette by the state government was a legal binding document, stressing that there was no concrete reason before it why the forfeiture should not be made absolute and final, noting that the state government can go ahead and do whatever it deems fit with the properties.
Also, he ruled that those who have made purchases of any of such properties are at liberty to approach the court to prove their titles.
Justice Njamanze had on February 26 given an interim order of forfeiture on the properties urging Okorocha to approach the court to show case as to why a final and absolute order of forfeiture should not be given over the properties following an application brought to it by Louis Alozie (SAN), on behalf of the state government.
This prompted Okorocha’s counsel to file a preliminary injunction to stop the final forfeiture citing forceful eviction and that the suit by the Imo State Government was not properly instituted
Some of the properties forfeited include:
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.
Public building situated at plot B/2 Otamiri South Extension Layout, given to the Ministry of Women Affairs for establishing a skills acquisition centre for women, allegedly acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s all-in Mall along Aba road.
Plot P5, Naze residential layout, initially part of the Primary School Management Board but now annexed to All-In Mall along 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.