In a bid to lessen the number of enemies generated so far since he came into office before he bows out, there are strong indications that the Imo state Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha has given directives to the Imo state’s Ministry of Finance to compile benefits and arrears of His Royal Majesty, Eze Dr. Cletus Ilomuanya, the Obi of Obinugwu with a view to paying him.
According to a story obtained online through gregnwadikeblog.com, the finance ministry has been asked to compile their remuneration packages are the sacked Council Chairmen of the 27 Local Government Areas of the state with their Supervisors, sacked Directors in various ministries and major contractors who worked for the state and were never paid.
A source close to the ministry informed our correspondent that directives have been issued to commence immediate compilation of all these debts and their beneficiaries following the decision of the governor to mend fences, and possibly woo all concerned to supporting his son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu as his successor in 2019.
“It is not yet clear when the exercise will commence, or the availability of resources for this, but I can tell you authoritatively that His Excellency had instructed that we compiled remuneration status for these categories of officers mentioned. We are doing that already, and very soon they will be contacted for their payment”, a Deputy Director informed.
It will be recalled that An Owerri High court, on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 ordered that HRM, Eze (Dr.) Cletus Ilomuanya remained the lawful and recognized Traditional Ruler of Obinugwu Autonomous Community in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State. The court declared the purported withdrawal of the monarch’s certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on June 6, 2014 as “Illegal, unconstitutional and therefore null and void”.
The court presided by Hon. Justice T.E.C Chikeka, frowned seriously at the governor’s conduct in purporting to dethrone the monarch vide a Press Release signed by the then Secretary to the Imo State Government now Minister of State (Education), Prof. Anthony Anwukah, and therefore ordered that Anwukah should pay Eze Ilomuanya N2 million as compensation while the governor should pay the monarch N50,000 as cost.
The judge averred that apart from breaching Law N0.6 of 2006 and violating various court judgments restraining the governor or his assigns from doing anything that will truncate Eze Ilomuanya’s tenure as chairman of Imo State Council of Ndi-Eze, the Press Release Prof. Anwukah issued dethroning Eze Ilomuanya is not a lawful instrument of authority and therefore “null and void” as it violates the express provisions of Law No. 6 of 2006.
The court expressed indignation that despite issuing a letter on June 4, 2014 signed by the Attorney General of Imo State, notifying that there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court and that all parties should respect the apex court, the governor and his Attorney General, two days later, violated the same letter and legal authorities cited therein, in clear disobedience to the rules and the Supreme Court.
“The actions of the Governor offends section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. Similarly, sections 13 and 14 (1) of Law No. 6 of 2006 provide conditions precedent in section 14 (1) (a-h) before the governor can exercise his powers. It was wrong for the governor to have acted as he did when the Court of Appeal judgment of July 5, 2013 was still subsisting same for the pending appeal at the Supreme Court. The entire objections of the governor are misconceptions of Law”, the Court maintained.
“Eze Ilomuanya has won all his legal cases against Governor Okorocha since 2011 and this is the 9th legal victory the monarch is recording against Okorocha’s unlawful conducts against him and the traditional institution in Imo State”, explained Ilomuanya’s media consultant, Mr. Kennedy Emeawa.
Similarly, the Appeal Court sitting in Owerri, Imo state had also quashed in 2012 the sack of elected Local Government Chairmen and Councilors by Okorocha on resumption of duty in 2011.
In a unanimous judgment which lasted over two hours, the presiding judge of the court, Justice Uwani Attaji, ordered the Transition Committee Chairmen superintending over the 27 Local councils to vacate their offices, and restrained the Governor, his agents, proxies and servants from interfering with the activities of the elected chairmen.
This was even as scores of contractors who undertook the construction of city gates in Owerri, the Imo State capital and businessmen who supplied materials and beverages during the 2012 birthday anniversary celebration of Governor Rochas Okorocha are still beckoning on the state government to pay them for their services. Some of them had approached the courts and gotten judgments in their favours. Imo State Government under Governor Okorocha had before now refused to obey any of these judgments resulting to high growth of fines, penalties and increase in remunerations of affected officers against the state.
The governor has fixed next month for elections into the Local Government Councils after seven years without so, until a rumour emerged last week that the Supreme Court had restrained the governor from going ahead with the election; an order the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemedo has refuted through a press statement, insisting the elections must go on as slated.
It is not yet clear whether the decision of the governor to start considering the settlement of these officers has anything to do with the planned Local Government Elections since the sacked Council Chairmen had already taken their matter to the Supreme Court.