Orlu youths have dragged Senator Rochas Okorocha to an Imo State High Court, seeking to recover, reclaim and restore the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko.
Other respondents in the suit, HOW/585/2020, are the Governor of Imo State, Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Imo State, Imo State House of Assembly, and the Incorporated Trustees of Rochas Foundation. Explaining why they took the action during a press conference in Owerri, on Monday, the Chairman, Education Committee of Orluzurumee Youth Assembly, OYA, Engr. Christian Okolie said: “What we seek, in essence, is a declaration of the court that the Eastern Palm University, which was (allegedly) built with state resources and all instruments of state power, is indeed a property of Imo people.
“We are also asking the court to hold that the management, control, and running of the University be accordingly vested, whole and entire, with the Government of Imo State, on behalf of the people of Imo State.”
Okolie further explained that OYA “is more fundamentally seeking an order of Court, nullifying the fraudulent Section 3(3), (4) and (5) of the Imo State Law Number 3 of 2019, which are unconstitutional, immoral and wrongful, to the extent that they confer benefits and privileges on Rochas Okorocha as a person, his Rochas Foundation, his cronies and his proxies, in the ownership of Eastern Palm University”.
While describing Law Number 3 of 2019, as “infamous and anti-people”, OYA leadership also argued that “the law was hurriedly cobbled together and nocturnally consented to by Okorocha, in total abnegation and violation of his oath of office as governor of Imo State”.
He recalled with grief that although they had made spirited efforts to get Governor Hope Uzodimma to take action over “this shameful, avaricious and wicked expropriation of Imo people from their own University, by Rochas Okorocha”, OYA, however, lamented that the wider implication of this is that any governor who comes on board, will use state resources to build a university in his village and privatize same before leaving office.
Okolie equally recalled that the National Universities Commission, NUC, by its letter to Imo State Government, dated April 13, 2016, recognized Eastern Palm University as the second state-owned university in Imo State, the 42nd state university in Nigeria and the 143rd university in Nigeria.
Speaking also, OYA National President, Dr Sylvester Anyikwa, said that the land was not given to Okorocha, but to the Imo state government.
“We were initially told that the land was for the permanent site of Imo State University, but was later changed to Imo European University, vide Law number 20 of 2012.
This law was later repealed in 2016, and replaced with Law number 13, which created Eastern Palm University”, Anyikwa said.
He further disclosed that this law sadly changed the University’s Visitor from Governor of Imo State to himself as Rochas Okorocha or any representative to be appointed by his Rochas Foundation.
Vanguard recalls that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the matter would come up September 7, 2020, at the High Court, Owerri.