Legal Nigeria

Court orders final forfeiture of Okorocha’s property to Imo govt

By Charles Ogugbuaja and Collins Osuji

Okorocha. Photo: TWITTER/REALROCHAS

• Ex-gov to appeal, says it’s an invasion of judgment
An Imo State High Court sitting in Owerri has ordered final forfeiture of all property of former Governor Rochas Okorocha to the state government.

The presiding judge, Justice Fred Njemanze, who was sitting as a vacation judge, in his judgment, yesterday, said Okorocha 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 insisted that Okorocha did not convince the court why the forfeiture should not be made absolute and final.

The forfeited property are contained in Pages 226 to 272 of the Imo State Government White Paper report by a Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Recovery of Lands and other related matters.

Justice Njemanze, who added that the suit filed against the state government by Okorocha’s counsel was not properly filed, maintained that the white paper gazette by the Imo State Government is a legal binding document.

BUT in a swift reaction, the lead counsel to the former governor, Oba Maduabuchi, held that they would appeal the judgment, maintaining that there could have been adoption of the matter, which was not held.

He said: “How can you ask me to come for adoption and you don’t sit and on Monday, you give him judgment on the matter you said I should come and adopt on Friday and you did not sit. Does it make sense to you?”

A few months ago, the retired Justice Florence Duruoha-Igwe panel had recommended forfeiture of property hitherto belonging to Okorocha to the Imo State Government.

Dissatisfied by the panel’s recommendation and white paper, Okorocha filed a suit to challenge it.

While Maduabuchi led Okorocha’s counsel, Louis Alozie led Imo State Government lawyers in the case.

Besides, Justice Njemanze had in February 26, 2021, given an interim order of forfeiture of the said property.

Maduabuchi, fielding questions from journalists after the judgment, said they were not satisfied with the judgment, stressing: “There is no way I will allow this level of perfidy. Even, a two-year old lawyer knows that the judgment cannot stand.”

He maintained that the judge had admitted that over 47 cases pending in other courts initiated by Okorocha were transferred to Njemanze’s court.

The plaintiff’s lawyer regretted that one of the cases pending before the judgment is that initiated by the Women of Divine Destiny Initiative, which they had argument of the question of the validity of the allocated land to them among others.

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