From Everest Ezihe, Owerri
There are strong indications that Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State is poised to recover Eastern Palm University at Ogboko in Orlu, alleged to have been fraudulently acquired by Sen. Rochas Okorocha, a former governor of the state while in office.
It was also suspected that Okorocha allegedly turned the University, located in his home town, to his private asset.
To demonstrate their willingness to acquire the institution, the state government has expressed its commitment to henceforth deal decisively with anyone or group of persons ready to test the will of government over ownership of the university.
The Executive Council of Imo State took the decision at its weekly meeting held yesterday and presided over by Gov. Uzodimma.
Addressing newsmen at the Government House Owerri, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, informed that the university was accredited by National Universities Commission (NUC) as the second Imo State-owed university.
According to the Commissioner, the Council disclosed their intention while accepting the White Paper Report on Land Use and Related Matters, which recognized that the Eastern Palm University as property of the state.
The council, he said, further resolved that all steps should be taken to recover the university from fraudulent claimants.
The White Paper, according to the commissioner, “recommended that the university should be recovered and appropriately designated as a state university in accordance with the laid down guidelines of the NUC.
“Consequently, Council has directed the relevant Ministries to take immediate steps to implement the decisions of the Executive Council as they concern the Whitepaper Report”, he assured.
He stressed that the university was not only registered with the NUC as the second state university, but was built and funded with the state’s tax payers money, hence government will not waste time to implement the recommendations of the White Paper.
Emelumba also said that in the nearest future government will decide on what to do with the university and that the Imo people will be informed appropriately.
The Commissioner, accompanied by the Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Barr. (Mrs) Doris Akubue-Onyeali stated that “now that the University has been recovered and returned to the state, anybody seen at the site or premises parading himself or herself in any manner in terms of ownership or otherwise will be dealt with decisively.”
On the plight of the students and workers, the commissioner said the council assuaged their fears, noting that none of them will be made to suffer for anything they are innocent of.
In another development, the Council has cleared the air on the orchestrated N8.9 billion Fidelity Bank “Loan” approved by the Imo State House of Assembly, describing the insinuation as unfounded.
Emelumba clarified that the money in question is not a loan, but Imo State Government’s share from the Excess Crude Account from the Federal Government.
He said what the state government did was simply to use her entitlements to get the money in bulk from Fidelity, her customer bank, instead of waiting for it to come to the state installmentally.
He therefore reiterated that the Imo State government under Governor Uzodimma has not borrowed from any bank yet and as regards N8.9billion it is Imo State money that the governor has requested from her customer bank and not a loan.