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Court Orders Final Forfeiture Of Properties Linked To Okorocha

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Rochas Okorocha
Rochas Okorocha
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A State High Court in Owerri has ordered the final and absolute forfeiture of Royal Palm Springs Hotel and other properties said to belong to Senator Rochas Okorocha and other members of his family.

The forfeited properties are contained in pages 226 to 272 of the Imo state Government white paper report by a Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Recovery of Lands and other related matters.

According to the ruling by Justice Fred Njemanze, who was sitting as a vacation judge, Okorocha’s counsel failed to give concrete and verifiable reasons why a final and absolute forfeiture order should not be given in favour of the Imo state government.

Justice Njemanze added that the suit filed against Imo state Government by Okorocha’s counsel was not properly filed.

He also described it as a surplusage, a term in lawn which means a useless statement completely irrelevant to a matter.

Justice Njemanze maintained that the white paper gazette by the Imo state Government is a legal binding document.

The judge concluded that there was no concrete reason before it why the forfeiture should not be made absolute and final, hence the Imo state Government can go ahead and do whatever it deems fit to do with the properties.

As for persons who might have made purchase on such properties, Justice Njamanze said they are at liberty to approach the court to prove their titles.

However, the properties as at today have been returned to the Imo state Government.

Justice Fred Njamanze had February 26 given an interim order of forfeiture on the properties urging Senator Rochas Okorocha to approach the court to show case as to why a final and absolute order of forfeiture should not be given over the properties following an application brought by Mr  Louis Alozie, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on behalf of the state government.

This prompted Okorocha’s counsel to file a preliminary injunction to stop the final forfeiture citing forceful eviction and that the suit by the Imo state Government was not properly Instituted.

Some of the properties forfeited include:

1. Eastern Palm University, Ogboko
2. Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments
3. IBC staff quarters said to have been illegally acquired for the purpose of Rochas Foundation College
4. Owerri magistrate quarters, Orlu road/cooperative office/Girls Guide allegedly converted to private use housing market square and Kilimanjaro eatery
5. Public building situated at plot B/2 Otamiri South Extension Layout given to the ministry of women affairs for establishing a skills acquisition centre for women, allegedly acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s all-in Mall along Aba road.
6. Plot P5, Naze residential layout, initially part of primary school management board but now annexed to All-In Mall along Aba Road, belonging to Mrs Nkechi Okorocha
7. And all the properties contained from pages 226 to 272 of the government white paper on the recommendation of the judicial commission of inquiry into land administration in Imo state from June 2006 to May 2019”.

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Judiciary

27 Rivers Assembly Lawmakers Dump PDP For APC

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Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike
Rivers State Assembly Complex. Insets: Governor Siminalayi Fubara (L) with FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike
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The Current political drama in Rivers State has taken a new turn as 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A member of the Assembly, Enemi George, confirmed to Channels Television that the 27 lawmakers were under the leadership of Martin Amaewhule.

He said the decision was taken during their sitting on Monday morning.

For weeks, Amaewhule and another member, Edison Ehie, have been embroiled in a Speakership tussle. Amaewhule is believed to be loyal to ex-governor Nyesom Wike while Ehie is known to be in the camp of Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

The Assembly under Amaewhule had in October served an impeachment notice on the governor and removed Ehie as the House leader. However, some members of the Assembly loyal to Fubara immediately impeached Amaewhule and made Ehie the new Speaker.

The crisis in the 32-member Assembly had begun as a result of a rift between Fubara and his predecessor, Wike, who is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Though the two politicians have both attended same public events in the last few weeks and all seemed to have been settled but with Monday’s defection of 27 lawmakers from the PDP to the APC, more drama might unfold in the state’s political arena.

Meanwhile, some political players from other parties over the weekend announced their defection to the PDP.

Leading the defectors from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the APC were the deputy governorship candidate of the SDP in the 2023 election, Patricia Ogbonnaya; and former Ahoada-West Chairman, Karibo Wilson.

They decamped alongside their supporters and other party excos.

The politicians dumped their former parties to pitch tent with the PDP group loyal to Fubara.

Also in attendance were some of the Ehie-led group of lawmakers, with the member representing Ahoada West, Goodboy Sokari representing the governor alongside Oko Jumbo from Bonny Constituency.

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Judiciary

NJC Recommends Appointment Of 11 Supreme Court Justices

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Entry Point to Supreme Court Complex Abuja
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The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the appointment of 11 justices to the Supreme Court.

A statement by the apex court’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, said the recommendation was made at the 104th meeting of the council in Abuja on Wednesday.

The recommended candidates would be sworn-in after the approval of their recommendation by President Bola Tinubu and the subsequent confirmation of their appointment by the Senate.

With this appointment, the apex court will have the full complement of 21 justices, as envisaged by the Constitution.

Those recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court are:

Hon. Justice Jummai Hannatu Sankey, OFR
Hon. Justice Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa
Hon. Justice Chioma Egondu Nwosu-Iheme
Hon. Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani
Hon. Justice Moore Aseimo A. Adumein
Hon. Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya
Hon. Justice Stephen Jonah Adah
Hon. Justice Habeeb Adewale O. Abiru
Hon. Justice Jamilu Yammama Tukur
Hon. Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar
Hon. Justice Mohammed Baba Idris

The NJC at its last meeting for the year also recommended the appointment of Justice Mohammed Ramat to the Court of Appeal, as well as six heads of courts and 26 other judicial officers.

The various Heads of Court recommended would also be sworn-in upon the approval of their appointment by their various State Governors and subsequent confirmation of same by their respective State Houses of Assembly.

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Judiciary

CJN Urges Judges To Remain Fair In Judgements

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Justice Olukayode Ariwoola
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The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has asked Judges to maintain the integrity that the Judiciary is known for and remain fair and firm in their Judgements.

The CJN was speaking at the opening of the special session of the 2023/2024 Legal year and Swearing-in of 58 newly conferred Senior Advocates of Nigeria In Abuja.

Ariwoola added that he expects every judicial officer to work very hard and also be very honest and courteous to the litigants, witnesses and members of the bar, and discharge all their judicial functions with all the humility at your command.

While pledging to safeguard the rule of law, the holistic independence of the judiciary and the trust and confidence of the public, the CJN further reiterated the determination of the Judiciary, not to be overwhelmed by the sentiments of the public in their decisions.

He stated that the law remained the law, no matter whose interest was involved.

He charged them that In all they do, as interpreters of the law, they should endeavour to severe the strings of emotion from logic and assumption from fact.

The CJN further reminded the judges that it is necessary to have at the back of their minds that public opinions, sentiments or emotions can never take the place of the law in deciding the cases that come before them.

He stated that the Judiciary, as it is today, is more deserving of public trust and confidence than ever before; and they are poised to reposition it for effective justice delivery to make the country a destination of note in the observance of the rule of law and tenets of Constitutionalism.

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