By Ikenna Esogibe, Abuja
Sen. Ifeanyi Araraume, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, Chief Tony Chukwu, Chief Leo Stan Eke and Hon Chike Okafor are on the verge of losing their houses situated at Shell Camp, Owerri.
Others to also lose their property in the same area are Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim, Chief Charles Orie, Chief George Eche, Chief Jude Ejiogu, Hon OZB Ozuruigbo, Bar Chima Anozie, Hon Iyke Njoku, Prince Charles Amadi (Chalvon), Dr Uzoma Anwuka, Chief Ugochukwu Hillary, among others.
This followed the recommendations made by the Committee set up by Imo State Government for the recovery of land belonging to Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education (AIFCE).
The panel had indicted the former state governor, Sen. Rochas Okorocha for using brute force to disposes the College of its land.
The Committee stated that Okorocha had ordered the demolition of 101 buildings belonging to staff of the College situated in the said land and thereafter confiscated it.
Submitting its report to Governor Hope Uzodimma, on Tuesday, the committee recommended the recovery of the land from Okorocha and his associates within six months and hand the same over to AIFCE.
The report which was signed by the Chairman, Prof Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe and the Secretary, Barr B F Anyanwu, disclosed that Okorocha, after snatching the land from the College thereafter allocated or sold them to his top associates.
The panel urged the Imo State Executive Council “to direct the recovery of all the lands belonging to AIFCE, which are now illegally in the hands of individuals and institutions.”
It further asked the State Government to ensure the recovery of the land within six months and thereafter issue a certificate of occupancy to the college.
“AIFCE should take full possession of the vacated land and property immediately upon recovery while the Commissioner for Lands and OCDA should recover the land within six months,” the committee recommended.
It further recommended that AIFCE should pay the agreed compensation to Orji indigenes who are the original owners of the land while the Army should vacate the shanties they erected in the land and finally move to Obinze.
Responding, Governor Uzodimma thanked the committee for doing a thorough job and promised that the State Government would take all necessary steps in accord with due process to implement the committee’s recommendations.
Recall that in 2016, staff of Alvan Ikoku College of Education had sued Imo State Government led by Okorocha then for alleged forceful eviction from their old premises, which was demolished and reallocated to new occupants.
In suit No HOW/406/2016, filed at Owerri High Court, the plaintiffs prayed the court for justice as they claimed that they were illegally removed from their lands.
On November 2020, delivering his judgment, Justice K A Orjiako ruled that the new occupants were illegally occupying Shell Camp Quarters and should vacate for the proper owners.
“It is hereby declared that the plantiffs are entitled to peaceable and undisturbed possession on the developed properties known as Shell Camp” the court had ruled.”
Political critics in the State have described the panel recommendation and Uzodinma’s sudden move to implement the white paper as a political witch-hunting.
One of the critics accused the governor of backbiting some of the leaders in the state, likes of Senator Okorocha and Ifeanyi Ararume who seems not to be supporting his re-election for second tenure.
Critics accused the governor of clamping down on the Opposition by taking undue advantage of the Court Judgement to suppress some of those who were indicted in the panel recommendation.
Hear him, “The governor should have done this before now. Why Is his committee submitting report now that Imo is about to hold election in couple of weeks.
“He said in Saturday and Sunday last week that he will begin to clampdown on his opposition in the state after he spent many months in Abuja to impress some Cabals.
“Imo will win, no amount of Intimidation will change the will of God. Uzodinma demolishing hotel belonging to opposition leader, Mike Ikeokwu in Owerri yesterday is also signed of his defeat. If he like let him set another committee of inquiry that will probe the entire imolites who are not supporting him.
“He has arrested Theodore Chinonso Uba NonsoNkwa , one of our best broadcast Journalists in the state for over 19 days he is under detention.
“This is democracy, Imo people do not deserve to be treated like this. Let the opposition breath in Imo”