IMO State government officials have revealed that they have found public property belonging to the state in a private warehouse located along Owerri/ Aba Road owned by former governor Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Senator Okorocha, currently the lawmaker representing the Imo West Senatorial District, served as governor between 2011 and 2019. According to state officials, equipment was looted from the Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industry in Ehime Mbano, which was established by the administration of the late Sam Mbakwe, the first civilian governor of old Imo State and appropriated by Senator Okorocha.
Simon Ebegbulem, the Imo State commissioner for commerce and industry, led a team to the warehouse located along Owerri/Aba Road. Mr Ebegbulem said the equipment was looted in preparation for the establishment of a private ceramic and tiles company by Senator Okorocha and was stored with other public-owned facilities.
Mr Ebegbulem added: “The said 55ft by 200ft warehouse is adjacent to another warehouse where the then Emeka Ihedioha administration discovered some public properties said to be owned by the state. There was a time the administration of Hope Uzodimma raised the alarm on the equipment of Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industries looted by the administration of Rochas Okorocha.
“That was after some patriotic citizens of the state raised the alarm on these looted Imo properties kept by the Okorochas along Owerri/Aba Road. We followed up to find out the truth and with what we have seen in Okorocha’s warehouse and there is a plan by Okorocha to set up a ceramic factory with government-owned properties.
“Information we have gathered from those guarding the warehouse is that sometimes, Okorocha’s people come here to pick some items and sell them off. However, some of the equipment we are looking for are here and we have come to take possession of the Imo properties and anybody we see here will blame himself.
“We have taken over the government properties for the good of Imolites based on their demands. Some of the public things discovered include equipment of the Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industry set up by the then government of Sam Mbakwe, as the industry established for Imo people have been personalised.
“We also found streetlight equipment and their components and traffic light accessories and artificial tree plants were all found in the large warehouse owned by Okorocha. Also, a moulder from the Nsu Ceramics and Tiles Industry other components of the Nsu Ceramic and Tiles Industry were discovered to be in the warehouse and now we have taken them over.”
However, senator Okorocha said what the government recovered were mere cartons of tiles. Sam Onwuemeodo, Senator Okorocha’s spokesman, denied that the items in question belonged to the Imo State government.
Mr Onwuemeodo said: “It was interesting to read that what the commissioner said they recovered were streetlight accessories and cartons of tiles. He didn’t even disclose how he arrived at the conclusion that those items were owned by the government.”