Former governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha has reacted to the verdict by a Federal High Court sitting in Owerri, which ordered a final forfeiture of his properties, accusing the presiding Judge, Justice Fred Njemanze, of ‘Bias’.
In a statement, signed by his media aide, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha said Justice Njemanze must have been deceived into giving the Interim forfeiture Order over the properties, noting that Cases on them have been ongoing in various Courts of Competent jurisdiction, since 2019 and 2020.
The statement was titled ‘SUBJECT: JUSTICE FRED NJEMANZE OF OWERRI HIGH COURT, GIVES JUDGEMENT ON OKOROCHA’S PERSONAL PROPERTIES, WITHOUT LAWYERS TO PARTIES IN THE CASE, ADOPTING THEIR PROCESSES, LESS THAN 24 HOURS TO HIS RETIREMENT – THIS IS NOT HOW TO GO ON RETIREMENT.’
The statement read: “On February 24, 2021, Justice Fred Njemanze of Owerri High Court gave Interim forfeiture order in favour of Governor Hope Uzodinma led State Government over the personal properties of Senator Rochas Okorocha and his family.”
“Cases involving the properties in question or in Contention, have been going on since 2019 and 2020 in various Courts of Competent Jurisdiction, including the Federal High Court in Owerri, Imo State.
“Following this unexpected interim forfeiture order, Okorocha’s lawyers, led by Chief Obah Maduabuchi, SAN, felt that Justice Njemanze must have been deceived into giving the Interim forfeiture Order over properties the Cases on them have been going on in various Courts of Competent jurisdiction, since 2019 and 2020.
“Against this backdrop, Okorocha’s lawyers filed Preliminary objection to the matter in Justice Njemanze’s Court. The essence, being to draw his attention to the ongoing Cases on the properties he had given interim forfeiture order against.
“On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, Justice Njemanze sat. The lawyers in the matter argued on the preliminary objection. Chief Obah, SAN, stood for Okorocha, while Chief Louis Alozie (SAN) stood for the Imo State Government. The Court sat for almost the whole day.
“Justice Njemanze reserved ruling on the Preliminary objection and told the lawyers that they would be communicated on the date.
“On Wednesday, August 4, 2021, the Court registrar sent message to the lawyers, that the Court would sit on Friday, August 6, 2021, for lawyers to adopt the processes, instead of the expected ruling on the Preliminary objection.
“On Friday, August 6, 2021, Lawyers were in Court till 3 pm. Justice Njemanze did not come. He did not sit. Lawyers left and those involved left.
“In other words, by Friday, August 6, 2021, neither the expected ruling on the Preliminary objection was given, nor the adoption of the processes as Contained in the text message of Wednesday, August 4, 2021, took place.
“On Monday, August 9, 2021, while lawyers in the matter were expecting to hear from the Court on the next line of action, the information came that Justice Njemanze had given Judgement in the matter, not on the Preliminary objection, but on the main case and without lawyers adopting the processes.
“In the ruling, he gave absolute forfeiture order, on the properties in question, which matters on them have been going on and still going on in Courts of Competent Jurisdiction, and in less than 24 hours to his retirement. He is retiring on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. Justice Njemanze has enrolled as “ungun Judicial known man”.
“He wanted to finish the unfortunate job he had begun on February 24, 2021, before going on retirement on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. This cannot be taught to any law student. It is an invasion of Justice and a stampede of judicial processes. His parting gift for the Judiciary and the Society at large is nauseating. May God bless him as he retires from service. He would have refused to be used. That would have been more honourable.
“He only justified or aided the desperation of the State Government to take over personal properties of Okorocha and the family. Truth shall prevail over vendetta and envy.”