Imo state, the Eastern Heartland which is formerly known as the Land of Hope has recently been put under the spotlight. The state has been embroiled in what seems to be a face-off between two of the big players in the state, Hope Uzodinma and Rochas Okorocha, a feud that threatens to become the talking point of the state for the next few weeks.
Well, first of all, the arrest of the former governor of the state who is now the senator representing Imo west at the National assembly Rochas Okorocha by the police on Sunday 21st of February 2021 in Owerri for breaking into the Royal Spring Palm Hotel which had been sealed two days earlier by the Commissioner for Lands and planning on behalf of the Imo State Government seemed to be a one-off incident but it turned out to be a teaser of what was yet to come.
The hotel which is owned by the wife of the former governor, Nkechi Okorocha was sealed following the adoption of the recommendation of the judicial panel of inquiry on lands and other related matters in November last year alleging that the land had been fraudulently acquired by the governor.
But just a few days after his release, a high court in Owerri ordered an interim forfeiture of all properties allegedly acquired illegally by the senator during his tenure as governor of the state. In an application filed by Louis Alozie, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on behalf of the state government, the presiding judge, Justice Fred Njemanze ordered that the “Royal Spring Palm Hotels and Apartments, Eastern Palm University Ogboko, 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 Women Affairs for establishing a skills acquisition center for women illegally acquired for the benefit of Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha’s All-In Stall, Aba road, Plot P5, Naze residential layout, initially part of primary school management board but now annexed to all-in stall, Aba road, belonging to Nkechi Okorocha, 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” are to be forfeited.
Surely it can’t get any worse for Rochas Okorocha with the former governor battling back, describing the interim order of forfeiture as “belated, an after-thought and deceitful” while stating for anyone who cares to listen that Uzodinma will not win the war.
Surprisingly, Uzodinma is not just the successor to the former governor Okorocha but they belong to the same political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and one would be forced to ask; Where exactly did it go wrong?
Going down the political history of both men would make it clearer how things have gotten to this point.
Whilst both men were members of the same party, Uzodinma was not the preferred candidate of the former governor to succeed him in the office with his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu his choice. When his preferred candidate lost the party’s governorship primary, he didn’t stop but continued to fully stand behind his son-in-law who had defected to Action Alliance (AA) going as far as saying that “it would require God talking from heaven and telling Imo people, Chief Hope Uzodinma is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased before Imo people could consider changing their minds”, accusing Uzodinma of being a mole in the party amongst other statements as the then governor went on a full offensive against the then governorship aspirant earning himself a suspension from the party in the process and although Okorocha was present at the swearing-in of the incumbent governor, his appearance did little to paper over the cracks and grudges between both men.
The contentions within the APC party ranks in the state have continued to grow between party members loyal to Okorocha and Uzodinma loyalists with different factions having different leaders.
If there’s anything Nigerian politics has shown over the years, this saga is far from over!