Posted by News Express | 16 February 2021 | 565 times
Imo government, yesterday, painted a picture of how former governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, attempted to dupe the people of their university after N20 billion of public funds had been invested in the institution, by the state government.
In a world press conference in Owerri, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said government moved to recover Eastern Palm University, Ogboko when it became obvious that the former governor wanted to fraudulently appropriate the institution to himself.
Displaying documents including approval from the National Universities Commission (NUC) to authenticate the state ownership of the university, Chief Emelumba asked Okorocha to apologise to imo people for attempting to steal their commonwealth.
“This is one of the most elaborate and devious scam to dupe an entire state of their patrimony using the instrumentality of state power.”
He said from the acquisition of the 101 hectares of land where the said university is located, it was made clear that it was for the permanent site of Imo State University. The government subsequently paid N58 million as compensation to owners of the land. The money was paid through Moneke and legal lractitioners of No 5 Emeka Emebo close, Idado, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos.
Chief Emelumba recalled that even the former governor told Imo people in 2012 that he was building a permanent site for Imo State University in Ogboko and that the land was being acquired to host the permanent site, only for him to turn around to try to convert it to his private university.
“The approval by NUC expressly stated that Eastern Palm University is the 42nd state university in Nigeria. Nowhere was it designated as a private university,” the commissioner clarified.
In the letter sighted by our correspondent with reference number NUC/ES/529/Vol103 dated 13th April, 2016, the NUC confirmed that Eastern Palm University is a state University.
It read in part” this is to inform Your Excellency that with effect from 13th April 2016, Eastern Palm University in Ogboko Imo state is formally recognised as the 42nd state university and 143rd university in the Nigerian university system.”
Chief Emelumba also disclosed that between 2013 and 2019, Government funds totalling N20 billion had been expended in building the university.
“These were tax payers money and the records are there. How can anyone with conscience claim that the people funded a private university for him?,he asked.
The commissioner said Government was shocked when Okorocha started laying claim to the university based on a fraudulent public private partnership arrangement.
According to him, Okorocha as the owner and representative of Rochas Foundation negotiated with himself as Governor of Imo State. “So the negotiation was between Okorocha and Okorocha and Okorocha dubiously allocated 90 percent of the ownership of the university to himself and a paltry 10 percent to Imo people who built the Eastern Palm University with their money,” Emelumba explained
He said no responsible government will allow such a brazen day light robbery to subsist, hence the government moved to recover the university for the people.
He announced that all those involved in what he described as the greatest scam of the century are being investigated for possible prosecution.
Chief Emelumba assured Imo people that Governor Hope Uzodinma will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that those who stole or tried to steal their patrimony are appropriately punished. (Daily Sun)
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