A High Court sitting in Owerri presided over by Justice Fred Njemanze has ordered the permanent and absolute forfeiture of Royal Spring Palm Estate and Apartments to the Imo State Government, including all other properties contained in pages 226 to 272 of the Imo State Government White Paper (Gazette) on Land Use and other related matters.
The embattled Royal Spring Palm Estate developed on a green verge of the Otamiri Water scheme in Owerri during the administration of Rochas Okorocha as Imo State Governor bears in its documents ownership to Nneoma Okorocha, the wife of Sen Rochas Okorocha.
Months after, glaring evidences from the Imo State Ministry of Lands had shown the lands where the property was developed belonged to the Imo State Government, a position which the Judicial Panel on Land Use ratified and recommended for its recovery.
In his ruling, the Judge held that Senator Rochas failed to give concrete and verifiable reasons why a final and absolute forfeiture order should not be given in favour of Imo state.
Recall that Senator Rochas Okorocha filed a preliminary injunction to stop the final forfeiture citing forceful eviction and that the suit by the Imo state Government was not properly Instituted.
However, Justice Njemanze held that the suit filed by Imo state Government was not only properly filled but was also a suplousage, as the white paper gazzette by the Imo state Government is a legal binding document.
Justice Njemanze concluded that, there is no reason before it why the forfeiture should not be made absolute and final.
To this end every property on pages 226 to 272 of the white paper has been forfeited to the Imo state Government and they can do with it whatever they deem fit.
As for those who had made purchases on such properties, the court held that, they are at liberty to approach the court to prove their titles, however the properties as at today, have been returned to the Imo state Government.
Justice Fred Nkemanze had on the 26th of February 2021 given an interim order of forfeiture urging Senator Okorocha to approach the court to showcase as to why a final and absolutely order of forfeiture should not be given over the properties following an application brought by Mr Louis Alozie, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on behalf of the state government.
The properties to be forfeited included:
“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, Kilimanjaro eatery;
Public building 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 stall, Aba road”.
Plot P5, Naze residential layout, initially part of primary school management board but now annexed to All-In Stall, Aba Road, belonging to Nkechi Okorocha,
and all other 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.