There are indications that former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State may have been thrown into renewed fear as his successor, Governor Emeka Ihedioha, constituted a judicial panel of inquiry in the state. National Daily learned that the panel constituted the judicial panel of inquiry will be focusing on resolving controversies over breaches and irregularities in land administration in Imo State over the years. This was identified as one issue that generated vehement protests in the state in the Okorocha administration where several families cried out over forceful acquisition of their land or deliberate destruction of property and the subsequent deprivation of the land by the state government.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Chibuike Onyeukwu, in a statement explained that Governor Emeka Ihedioha, CON, in exercising the powers conferred on him by section 3 of the Commission Of Inquiry (cap. 24), Laws of Eastern Nigeria, 1963 and all other powers enabling him, constituted the Commission of Inquiry on Lands and Related Matters comprising of the following members:
1. Justice Florence Duruoha Igwe – Chairman
2. TPL (Dr) Emmanuel E. Nze – Member
3. Esv (Sir) Cajethan Ohiri – Member
4. Surveyor Mezu C. Ozowara – Member
5. Barr. Nkiru Victoria Onwu – Member
6. Sir Kelly Azike – Member
7. Mr. Isaac Oguzie – Member/Secretary
It was indicated that the Commission shall have full powers and authority to hold hearings which shall be conducted in a manner prescribed by the Commission of Inquiry law.
Also, the Terms of Reference of the Commission include:
a. Ascertain the extent of land compulsorily acquired or forcefully wrested from the owners.
b. Ascertain and determine whether such compulsory acquisitions as mentioned above were lawfully made or not.
c. Ascertain the extent of allocation and revocation of land in Imo State from June 2006 – May 2019 and determine the propriety of such allocations and revocations.
d. Ascertain and determine whether due process, diligence and strict adherence to the provisions of Land Use, 1978 and all other relevant laws on acquisition of land were followed.
e. Determine the extent of compliance with the relevant laws for the development of the New Owerri Capital Territory and adherence to the master plan of Owerri capital territory as authored by Fingerhurt and Partners.
f. Examine and ascertain whether Government land or part of it have been converted to private use and identify the persons responsible and make recommendations for recovery and appropriate sanctions.
g. To exercise all powers conferred on the Commission by Section 8 of the law and to do all other things incidental to the terms of reference herein
h. To do all other things incidental to the terms of reference.
Subsequently, the Panel has the mandate to:
i. Make recommendations to the Government based on their findings.
The Commission is expected to render its report on the Inquiry to the Governor not later than 60 days, or such extended period allowed by the Governor.