CONTRARY to the story that Imo state Governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha started and completed the controversial Spibat Estate, Amakohia, Owerri while in government, ENCOMIUM Weekly sources revealed the billionaire mogul began the project years back.
Our source also clarified that the controversial estate is not in Okorocha’s hometown in Ogboko, Ideato South Local Government of Imo State, but in Umuodu, Mbieri (Owerri).
Governor Okorocha’s Spibat Mansions is a sprawling palatial estate that conveniently accommodates over twenty eye-popping buildings. His own structure is a kind of presidential mansion which has a ranch, every imaginable modern facility, multiple buildings, among others.
On the real cost of the luxury estate, ENCOMIUM Weekly was told it’s only Okorocha’s own building that could be worth N1 billion or even more. The entire estate cited in over 10 hectares of land (about 15 acres) is actually valued at over N3 billion!
The wondrous estate spanning from Amakohia, Uratta in Owerri North to Mbieri, Mbaitoli, is under the control of Owerri Capital Development Authority (OWCDA).
Further investigations equally show that Spibat Estate is not entirely an Okorocha project, with many other beautiful houses springing up in the hood all in the name of South East’s most luxury estate.
Okorocha is also said to be encouraging Imo people, especially his associates, to buy into the Spibat project. And some of them including serving, former commissioners and other political appointees have allegedly acquired lands there.
On the news making the rounds that President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari was shocked at seeing Okorocha’s mansion, when he paid official visit to the Governor, one of the his aides, Miss Shirley Igwe said, there was nothing like that.
“Who was there when General Buhari made the remark? There’s really nothing special about Spibat Estate that Governor Okorocha cannot afford. He has been a billionaire business man before he joined politics. The estate has been there. I think the opposition started this blackmail, days before and after the Imo guber election, which he eventually won.”
Many commentators have also defended the Governor.
“For the uninformed, Rochas Okorocha has been rich, way before he became a governor. So, don’t get it twisted,” wrote one Dustmalik in Nairaland.
Another commentator, Abagworo also added, “It’s in Mbieri, a town near Owerri in Imo State. Actually, in Mbaitoli LGA. It was there before he became governor. He has hotels also in Owerri that were equally there long before he became Governor. His multi-storey Rochas foundation glass house located opposite Rockview Hotel has also been there for ages. He invested at home right from time. Okorocha equally has a castle at Ogboko which has been existing for years.
“Be careful before making contributions. Spibat Estate was there before 2011. Okorocha has been wealthy for ages.”
However, pockets of unpalatable comments also knock Okorocha.
“If this is the type of rubbish you people celebrate in your APC states (while your criminal governors keep robbing you blind and hiding under propaganda), it is an entirely different story in the east.”
“Are you aware that is his private development which he built in under four years immediately after assuming office as governor? Are you aware he forcefully acquired all that land in the government’s name only to illegally sell it to himself even as a sitting governor? Are you aware Rochas Okorocha has moved into that estate and abandoned the Govt. House?”
“Incredible! This man was able to build all this in less than four yrs, but has been unable to revitalize the Avutu Poultry Farm. Shame on anybody voting this pig,” some of the anonymous comments read.
OKOROCHA’S SPIBAT ESTATE SWIMS IN CONTROVERSY
Okorocha has come under severe attack for the multi-million naira estate with allegations of stealing Imo funds and forceful acquisition of peoples’ property to build Spibat Estate in pubic space.
For instance, a man who claimed his property is among the large expanse of land known as Spibat Estate, has revealed how the governor illegally converted their land into his personal property without any due negotiations or payment of any compensations.
The man who gave his name as Mr. Desmond Mbonu narrated his experience in the hands of the governor, his aides and the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) as his land and that of other people were allegedly forcefully seized and collapsed into the land of Governor Okorocha which he acquired from Spibat in 2004.
According to the victim, all the land that is today called Spibat are not part and parcel of the one acquired by the governor in 2004, because some people numbering over 50 had already purchased land there in the two villages of Umuodu and Umuduga in Ihitte Mbieri autonomous community in Mbaitoli Local Government Area even before Okorocha came to acquire the portions that he got from Spibat.
“Before Rochas came here, a lot of people had started developing the property while some were still planning. Those who started their own completed all the steps required by OCDA, like survey plan and officially deposited same to OCDA.
“Though nobody can say the governor had no land there, what we are saying is that a lot of people also bought land close to his own estate and the number of persons were up to fifty five persons, excluding the indigenes of the community of the two villages (Umuodu and Umudagu Mbieri). And to state the fact, this area was a private layout and not an open space, public building plots nor government designated gardens and parks as it was not Rochas’ property. Above all, the place was not acquired by state or local government authority. The area was a normal layout with plot numbers and roads.
“In September, 2013, the governor commenced the annexation of land from his Spibat Estate wall to the express road using the OCDA as instrument. It was also the same month September 2013 that he now brushed and bulldozed the plots close to his estate. The governor through his agents destroyed our walls and fences, packed our blocks and building materials in the area. There was wide protest.
“The people whose lands were annexed are still in agony today. Most of the people have no land to settle their children. Some used the whole resources they had to buy that place. A lot of people took loan with the intention that the place will appreciate in value. When the place started appreciating, the governor did what he did. Now, the people cannot pay back the loans through selling their plots at appreciable prices, only to lose them to our governor. Now, he is the champion and the greatest.
“The governor used his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu and Chief Basil Ogbunga, the former Director of Lands who later was promoted to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Survey, to perfect his deals by telling people to deposit their original documents they used in buying the land. And at the end of the day, God knows what followed. On the second week of October, 2013, Rochas through his agents came to the area, brushed and bulldozed the walls and fences and cleared the land. They damaged economic crops and packed away people’s building materials. That was in months of September and October 2013. But on reaching the walls and fence of Rochas’ Spibat Estate, they stopped.”
He also alleged there was a big signpost inscribed “Proposed Site for Millennium Parks and Gardens” right in front of what is now called “Spibat Mansions”.
“What happened to that signpost? By that singular act, the Rochas Estate now has direct access link to Amakohia-Orji-Owerri Expressway.”
THE MAN OWELLE ROCHAS ANAYO OKOROCHA
Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, 52, is Imo state Governor-elect.
The billionaire mogul was first elected Governor in 2011 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) after defeating his closest rival, Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Okorocha has been President, Nigeria Red Cross Society; President/Founder, Rochas Foundation Inc; President, Rochas Group of Companies Limited, Pro Chancellor, African Business School and Former Chairman, Board of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.
Okorocha was also a Commissioner on the Federal Character Commission and a Member of the National Constitutional Conference. When democracy was restored in 1999, Rochas Okorocha was in the primaries to be People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for governor of Imo State, but lost to Achike Udenwa.
He moved to the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), where he failed to emerge the party’s presidential candidate in 2003. Rochas would return to the PDP, and President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him Special Adviser on Inter-Party affairs.
Rochas Okorocha formed the Action Alliance (AA) party in 2005 to become a Presidential candidate for the party in the 2007 elections. He again returned to the PDP, and in September 2007 indicated that he was interested in becoming PDP National Chairman. He later pitched his tent with APGA where he became Governor in 2011.
On March 2, 2013, Rochas led an APGA faction and decamped to All Progressives Congress. He was later elected by his colleague governors in the opposition as Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum.
Rochas was born in Ogboko, Ideato South, Imo State. He attended Juladaco High School, Jos (1976-1981).
Rochas Okorocha studied at the University of Jos (1990-1991), where he obtained a diploma in Public Administration. He returned to the University of Jos (1993-1994) to obtain an Advanced Diploma in Public Administration.
– UCHE OLEHI