A former Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has ordered the suspension of academic activities at the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko.
Imo State government and Rochas Foundation have been embroiled in controversy over the ownership of the university.
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A panel set up by then Governor Emeka Ihedioha had recommended that the University be taken over by the state government.
The present administration of Hope Uzodimma, in accepting the recommendations of the panel, renamed it Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe University.
Okorocha had said that the university was established as a public private partnership (PPP) between the foundation and the state government.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Tola Badejo, who disclosed this in a press briefing in Owerri on Wednesday, said that students have been ordered to vacate the premises from Friday 30, April, pending the resolution of the present impasse between Rochas Foundation and Imo State Government.
He said that the order was to prevent any confrontation between Rochas Foundation and the state government, stressing that the sign board of the university had been removed and replaced with the current name approved by the government.
He said, “I have been directed by the management to suspend the current academic session till further notice pending the resolution of the ongoing dispute between Imo State Government and Rochas Foundation.
“The school is currently in its fourth year and we are still receiving salaries from Rochas Foundation and about 90 per cent of the students are on scholarship.”
Badejo expressed optimism that the impasse would be resolved so that the current students would graduate on schedule.
He described the infrastructure in the school as world class comparable to any university in Nigeria, and pleaded that the infrastructure should not be allowed to waste.
Also, a press statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, Odanwu Augustine Ituma, said that the University was embarrassed by the recent visit of the Commissioner for Education where he ordered the students to leave the premises, adding that the removal of the entrance billboards by the state government and its replacement with the proposed renamed K. O. Mbadiwe was simply an action too many.
The statement said, “Antics and actions by the Imo state government have disrupted the academic activities in the institution and have stirred an air of panic and discomfort in a place that is designed to bring a sense of purpose to the young bright minds within its walls.
“The 309 students of the institution, out of whom 286 are on Rochas Foundation scholarship, would, unfortunately, be affected by the unforeseen development,” the statement added.
It urged students to contact the office of the registrar to gain better insight and support during this period, while efforts would be made to ensure that any study time lost during the period would be recovered in the overall interest of the students.