BY RALPH EJIMKONYE
Imo State Governor, Senator Uzodimma, Saturday, said Imo State has been recovered from those he described as buccaneers and interlopers, giving reasons why his predecessor,a former Governor of the state and senator representing Imo West senatorial district, Senator Rochas Okorocha must be probed.
He gave a comprehensive break down why he fell out with former Governor of the State and senator representing Orlu Zone, Senator Rochas Okorocha.
The former Governor was indicted by a Judicial Panel of Inquiry which recommended seizure of all his properties in the State.
On this basis, the Uzodimma administration sealed the Royal Palm Estate, a property linked to the wife of the former Governor.This led to Okorocha’s arrest by the Police. He was later released and some of his aides arraigned in court.
Uzodimma laid the issues bare before some stakeholders in the State saying the former Governor
Part of his speech reads:
“This brings me to the events of a few days when on a bright Sunday morning when most people were busy in churches in devout supplication to God, a former Governor of the state decided to take the laws into his hands by importing thugs to invade the state. You are aware of the various Judicial Commissions of Inquiry instituted by the defunct government of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. These commissions were set up to investigate what happened in government between 2011 and 2019. This was particularly with respect to the award of contracts and land use and related matters.
“It was clear that these commissions were set up in response to the yearnings of our people. The people saw, in black and white, that in eight years of the administration of Rochas Okorocha, there was no due process in governance. Contracts were awarded whimsically without recourse to due process. Lands belonging to both government and private citizens were forcefully acquired by the administration for the private use of relations and their cronies. The Owerri Master plan, jealousy preserved for years by previous administrations, was recklessly desecrated and flagrantly abused by the Okorocha administration.
“In resume, that era was rightly seen by many as the dark years in the history of governance of Imo State, characterized by lawlessness, abuse of office and ill-informed audacious attempt to supplant democracy with aristocracy.
“Against this background, the sentiment then, as it remains now, is that there must be a holistic probe of the administration of Rochas Okorocha. It was only natural therefore that when we came on board, we validated the mandate of the commissions and conferred legitimacy on them in accordance with the law.
“I want to leave it on record that some of the dramatis personae embroiled in the mindless looting of the state approached me to disband the commissions, arguing that it was set up by PDP to witch- hunt APC. I politely turned down the request, on the grounds that the mood of the people favoured the setting up of the commissions. It was later that it dawned on me that the earlier show of solidarity I received from these characters, including attending my inauguration and pledging to work with me, was just a smokescreen to persuade me to disband the commissions.
“I became curious and wondered why Okorocha and his cronies instead of going to the Commissions to clear their names rushed to the courts to vainly try to stop the commissions from doing their jobs. If they were innocent, would they try to get me to stop the commission or would they have gone to court for the same purpose? That reminded me of the title of one of the novels of James Hardley Chase: “The guilty are afraid”.
“Today we have the reports of the commissions, The white paper is out also. And it has been gazetted. Our duty remains to ensure faithful implementation of those recommendations. What happened on Sunday February 21st was that a man who thinks he is above the law because he ruled Imo State lawlessly, gathered thugs to break into a property sealed by the government in accord with a government gazette on the matter, which is protected under the law. This is the same man who broke the law in the first place and has refused to be accountable. He rebuffed every invitation from the commissions to come and answer the charges against him because he believes he is above the law.
“Now because he has become richer than the state government, as he publicly stated recently, he now sees himself as a god who can do and undo at will. And so with every effrontery, he marched majestically on that fateful Sunday morning, with his band of thugs, to go and unseal what a government has sealed. Even more disgusting was the fact that he also had the effrontery to tell Imo people that he was unsealing an estate built on a green verge against the Owerri Master Plan and worth over N5B Naira because it belonged to his wife. Quite a pity indeed! Of course, that was the height of assault on a people and their constituted authority.
“The security agencies of course responded appropriately. It is understandable that some people are angry because we stopped them from foisting a feudal aristocracy in Imo state. But I think it will be a costly mistake for them to allow their frustrations to drive them to lunacy. I don’t have anything personal against anybody. I am only here to serve the people of Imo State.
“One thing that is clear from the reports of these commissions are that the suspicion that the patrimony of Imo people was looted by Okorocha and his relations and cronies has been substantiated. The commission reports and recommendations, which have been accepted and gazetted, in the white paper, provide ample evidence in this regard. So what Okorocha and his band of thugs attempted to do last Sunday was to forcefully torpedo the legitimate outcome of the commissions of inquiry which is that all the Imo property looted or appropriated by him and his cohorts are recovered from them.
“Recall that he first went to court to stop the recovery and failed. Then he approached me to stop same and I refused. Now he wants to use brute force to hold on to what belongs to Imo people. Will you let him do that? I want to make this very clear: As a government, we will use all legal means to recover every Imo property or wealth wrongly appropriated by anyone, Okorocha inclusive. This is my covenant with Imo people and I intend to keep it to the letter.
“The restoration of Owerri Master Plans means that those who abused the processes would be punished. Those who took land from the government and private individuals would be forced to return them. In short, all looted assets of Imo people must be recovered and Imo State must be for all Imo people.
“However, I do recognize that power belongs to the good people of Imo State. As a government elected by the people, I called for this special stakeholders meeting to recourse to you on this matter. And so, as the stakeholders of Imo State and the voice of the people, I put the question pointedly to you: Do you want us to recover all looted Imo property and wealth illegally appropriated by any person or group of persons, whether high or low?. Whatever answer is your give, YES or NO, I want you to put it down in a resolution right here and now, and I assure you that your wish shall be the command of my government.
“My beloved Ndimo, we have every reason to celebrate God’s goodness to us as a state and people. We should not be detained by rabble-rousers and self-imposed emperors who had since lost their kingdom. Through the mercy of God, we have stopped them from conquering our state and taking the citizens as captives. We have stopped the unholy march to feudalism. We have reversed a budding aristocracy that would have made a few the illegitimate landlords of the land that belonged to all Imo people and left the rest of us their miserable tenants. Yes, we have every reason to celebrate because we have recovered our state from feudal interlopers and Buccaneers, but above all, we now have a government we can proudly call the government of the people by the people and for the people.
“WE should all now join hands together in one accord and work for the progress and well-being of our people Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe zones inclusive. Once again, our glorious journey is on course and our shared prosperity agenda will surely return smiles on the faces of our people.