A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the interim forfeiture of a property located on Plot 1032 & 1033 Cadastral Zone AO3, Takum Close, Off Michika Street, Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki Abuja, belonging to former governor of Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha.
The property is said to be acquired by proceeds of unlawful activities of the former governor, who is currently the Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
Justice Emeka Nwiete handling the matter gave the order while ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), pursuant to section 44(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 2006, seeking the forfeiture of the property on the grounds that it was illegally acquired by the former governor.
The Commission stated that its investigation had revealed that sometime in 2018, Abtisal Global Ltd and Archivisual Solution Ltd, companies in which Okorocha is believed to have interest, received N222, 000,000 from the Imo State Government Treasury to develop the said property.
In the ruling, the court directed that the interim forfeiture order be published in the national dailies, alerting anyone with interest in the property to show cause why it should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria and adjourned till April 13, 2022, for consideration of the motion for final forfeiture of the property to the Federal Government.
It would be recalled that an Owerri high court had in February 2021 ordered the final forfeiture of properties said to be acquired through “illegal means” by Okorocha.
The forfeited properties are listed in the Imo state government white paper report on the recovery of lands and other related matters.
The property allegedly acquired by Okorocha are listed as the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko, Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments, IBC staff quarters illegally acquired for the purpose of Rochas Foundation College, Owerri, Magistrate Quarters, Orlu Road/Cooperative Office/Girls Guide illegally 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 illegally acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s All-In Stall, Aba Road.
The court had also asked Okorocha to show cause why a final and absolute order of forfeiture should not be given following an application brought to it by Louis Alozie on behalf of the Imo state government.
Okorocha had asked a federal high court in Abuja to set aside the order and to restrain the defendants from investigating him or implementing the recommendations of the panels set up to probe previous administrations in the state, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.