From George Onyejiuwa and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Justice Fred Njemanze of the Owerri High court, yesterday, ordered permanent forfeiture of all government properties, including lands still in possession of ex-governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, and his family members.
The judge further ruled that all properties contained in pages 226 to 272 of the Imo State Government White Paper gazette on recovery of lands and properties belonging to Imo State be recovered.
Former governor Emeka Ihedioha had established a judicial panel of inquiry on lands allocation and administration by previous administrations in the State.
The current Hope Uzodimma administration, which inherited the report of the panel, had embarked on recovery of government properties in Okorocha’s custody, based on the white paper, which emanated from a Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Recovery of Imo State government assets and properties.
Okorocha, who represents Orlu senatorial zone at the Senate, had resisted attempts by officials of the Imo State Government to recover Royal Palm Suites, Owerri, an exquisite estate linked to his wife, Nneoma, which had resulted in a clash between the officials of state government and his supporters.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Njemanze, who was sitting as a vacation judge, said 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 Imo state government.
The judge also noted that the suit filed against the State government by Okorocha’s counsel was not properly filed.
He also described 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 Imo state government remains a legal binding document.
Meanwhile, counsel to Okorocha, Oba Maduabuchi, has expressed surprise over the judgement, describing it as unfortunate.