An Imo State High Court has ruled against the Governor of the State, Rochas Okorocha, on the demolition of staff quarters of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri.
The court presided over by Justice K. A. Ojiako, described the forceful entry, demolition of the staff quarters and rendering of the institution’s pensioners homeless, as “illegal, unconscionable and portrayed the defendants as people that have no respect for the rule of law.”
The judgement lasted more than two hours on Monday.
Justice Ojiako delivered the judgement in a suit HOW/406/2016, instituted by Dr. A. M. Iwuoha and others, against Imo State Governor, the state Attorney General, the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning and others.
The suit was filed by AIFCE retirees challenging to contest, among other things, their forceful ejection from their quarters and destruction of their property, as well as prayed for consequential damages to assuage their losses.
The judge held that the actions of the defendants “clearly negates beliefs and contradicts the rule of law mantra in the often sung Imo Anthem.”
The judge added that what was more intriguing was that the property which the defendants destroyed, do not belong to them.
Ojiako said, “In view of this reprehensible, reckless, atrocious and cruel conduct of the defendants, which also amounts to condemnable self-help, I will award exemplary damages against them.”
Apart from awarding the plaintiffs the sum of N400 million as consequential damages, Justice Ojiako also ordered that the plaintiffs should take possession of all structures built in the area.
“The defendants shall jointly and severally pay the plaintiffs the sum of N400 million only as exemplary damages for the forceful eviction of the plaintiffs and demolition of their properties, subject matter of this suit”, Ojiako said.
The Court restored the possession of the plaintiffs to the property erected in their premises.
He also, “restrained the defendants, their servants, preview, agents, officers from claiming, forcibly ejecting or further ejecting the plaintiffs from the said property, or interfering or further interfering with the plaintiff’s possession and/or occupation of the said property”