By Barr. Emperor N. Iwuala
Before the 16th November Anambra Governorship Election, 181 acclaimed members of All Peoples Congress (APC) from Osun State suspected to be election thugs were arrested by the Imo State Police Command at Disney Hotels along Owerri-Onitsha Road. It was said that the suspects who claimed to be election observers were being harboured at the hotel prior to when they would be deployed for the said Anambra election.
On Monday the 18th of November 2013, the suspects were brought for arraignment at the Magistrate Court Owerri but due to some reasons, the arraignment did not hold and the matter was adjourned to the 6th of December, 2013.
The press reported that the suspects were represented by the immediate past Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Imo State, Barr. Soronnadi Njoku. It was also reported that the lawyer who is presently the Governor Rochas Okorocha’s Special Adviser on Justice and Fairness later addressed the press after the court proceedings claiming that the way the police cocked their riffles after the court proceeding in court ordering the suspects out of the court room was against rule of law in a democratic setting.
I quite agree with the learned advocate on his observation because it is a well known fact that some times, the way some police officers manhandle those in their custody are far below the expectation of the law. But this will be a topic for another day.
However, I am attracted to Barr. Njoku’s said statement because of the irony of such statement. This is because Imo State recorded the highest level of lawlessness, executive rascality and disregard to court judgments when the Ngor-Okpala-born legal luminary was the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. As the then state Chief Law Officer, Barr. Njoku was applauding and justifying all acts of lawlessness and executive rascality being committed by the Okorocha administration.
Below are some of the acts of illegality and executive rascality recorded in Imo State Government committed by the Rochas Okoroch regime during Njoku’s time as the state Chief law Officer:
Statutory Commissions with fixed tenures Illegally Dissolved before the Expiration of Tenure of Office:
House of Assembly Service Commission
Civil Service Commission
Local Government Service Commission
Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC)
Local Government Development Areas
Judicial Service Commission
Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers
Imo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC)
1. Sack of beneficiaries of the Ten Thousand (10,000) Job Scheme without regard to the Imo State Public/Civil Service Rules
2. Illegal Dissolution of Elected Local Government Councils.
3. Illegal proscription of Local Government Development Centers
4. Illegal Suspension/Retirement of Permanent Secretaries and public Servants.
5. Demolition of Houses in Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, Anara, Amaraku etc without due process
6. Illegal Revocation of Plots of Lands allotted to persons without Due Process
7. Illegal trespass into Area ‘K’ Land belonging to Amawom Owerri people
8. Illegal acquisition/revocation and trespass to land belonging to Umuguma people in Owerri North.
9. Illegal Dissolution of Town Unions in all the Autonomous Communities in Imo State as against the provision of the Nigerian Constitution, the Companies and Allied Matters Act and the state law on town unions,
10. Use of Imo money and land to build private university at the Governor’s home town pretending to relocate Imo State University to the site
11. At the inception of his administration, Governor Okorocha told the whole world that he had ceded the state legislative quarters to Concorde Hotel Owerri and named it Concorde Extension. Later, he renamed the place Luxury Apartment and leased it to his his former Special Adviser on Project Monitoring, Prince Macdonald Akano for more than 15 years.
12. Leasing of ADAPALM to Roche Group, Imo Transport Company (I.T.C.), Concorde Hotel, Children’s Park (opposite Concorde Hotel Owerri), state General Hospitals etc for many years.
13. Sale of Imo Road Maintenance Agency (IROMA) graders, bulldozers, pay-loaders etc and appropriating same to yet-to-be accounted source.
14. Auction of world-class Printing and Sword Machines worth over 200 million naira (acquired during Mbakwe Administration) belonging to Imo Newspapers.
15. Illegal Borrowing of many Billions of Naira from banks.
16. Reduction of admission quota for Imo Indigenes in Imo State University and Imo State Polytechnics (IMSU) to 30%.
17. Use of state fund to sponsor daily advertorials, propaganda, world press briefings and slanted news stories in the media, with the popular “Yes, it is True” in many media houses.
18. Illegal sack of Education Secretaries in Imo State.
19. Misappropriation of Funds meant for local government councils and the Imo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC).
20. Refusal to Pay April and May 2011 Salaries and Severance Allowances to Government appointees who served Under Ohakim.
21. Refusal to Pay Community Speakers monthly allowances.
22. Refusal to pay Traditional Rulers of the 106 Autonomous Communities monthly allowances.
23. Stoppage of overtime allowance to public servants.
24. Refusal to pay minimum wage to Judiciary workers.
25. Cajole of Government Contractors into borrowing money to do government projects and refusing to formalize and pay for the contracts done.
26. Abandonment of city-gate projects in Owerri and refusal to pay contractors who are doing the job.
27. Refusal to Pay April and May 2011 Salaries, Severance benefits and other statutory entitlements to Ex-Governor Ikedi Ohakim, his Deputy Dr. Ada Okwuonu, former State Legislatures and Government Appointees who served between 2007 and 2011.
28. Creation of unconstitutional four-tier government in utter disregard to the three-tier government recognized by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
29. Declaration of Public Holidays to celebrate Governor’s birthday and personal programmes.
30. Appropriation of state fund without recourse to budgetary provision.
31. Allocation of land meant for New Government House Complex in New Owerri to private persons as against the provision of the Owerri Master plan.
32. Appointment of magistrates without a duly constituted State Judicial Service Commission.
33. Refusal to refund the sum of =N=5,000 being fees collected from aspirants to the 2012 cancelled Community Governing Council election.
34. Appropriation of State fund without recourse to budgetary provision.
35. Allocation of land meant for New Government House Complex to private persons as against the provision of the Owerri Master plan.
Court Judgments Disobeyed:
1. Refusal to re-instate Elected Local Government Councils in the 27 Local Government Areas in Imo State as against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal.
2. Use of Sole Administrators to run local government councils in Imo State as against Court of Appeal declaration of Sole Administrators as unconstitutional.
2. Refusal to Re-instate Sacked Members of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission against the judgment of an Owerri High Court.
3.Refusal to obey the Court of Appeal judgment re-instating Eze C. I. Ilomuanya as the Chairman Imo State Council of Ndi-eze.
1. Money stolen in Connivance with Jpros Company Limited from the Construction of Warehouse Orlu Road Junction-Aba Road (which Traverses Odunze And Amigbo Streets And Old Nekede Road In Owerri Municipality) awarded to Jpros International Limited.
Governor Okorocha paid JPROS a total of =N=1.35 Billion Naira for the above road
a.=N=458 Million Naira Laundered to Dubai and Lebanon with the connivance of the Governor’s Special Adviser on Project Monitoring Prince Macdonald Akano and Mr. Joseph Dina of JPROS International Limited (yet to be recovered)
b.=N=200 Million Overpaid to JPROS Ltd. (yet to be recovered)
c. Ministry of Works valued work done by JPROS on the above road at =N=198 Million Naira. Subtracting the above funds from the entire contract sum paid, the contractor is still holding Imo people’s unspent and unaccounted =N=494 Million Naira. (As the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Njoku was told to recover the fund but nothing has been heard till date).
Human Rights Abuses:
1. Use of Governor Okorocha’s Task Force on the Recovery of Government Property and other thugs to manhandle the Manager of Hotel Codial Ltd in Enugu, illegally invade the premises of Ada Okwuonu in Enugu and Eze Ilomuanya in Owerri.
2. Illegal use of police to lock up the State Secretariat of All progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Owerri.
3. Persistent use of Vigilante Group to invade the 27 local government councils and manhandling of public servants therein.
4. The use of Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) to demolish people’s houses and structures belonging to perceived opponents of the Okorocha administration
Government Projects paid for with nothing on Ground to Justify Payment:
7 Star Prince Hotel
7 Star Princess Hotel
1,000 Housing Units
Magnificent towers called ‘Akachi’
15 Kilometer Roads in Local Government Areas
5 Star Hotel at Dan Anyiam
From the above, it could be seen that there is no moral justification in the recent cry for justice by Barr. Njoku on the way the police treated his clients at the Magistrate Court Owerri because he was and still is at the vanguard of the government that has really dealt a heavy blow on rule of law and justice in Imo State.
Therefore, this is a lesson to all those who applaud illegality because ‘whatever that goes around must come around’. That is nemesis and retributive justice in action.
Therefore, when we condemn evil, everybody should join hands to condemn it because in a lawless setting, everybody is a potential victim of lawlessness.
(Iwuala is an Owerri-Based Private Legal Practitioner/Public Affairs Analysts. He can be reached on: 08037247295)