by Adeola Balogun
The tussle within the Ojukwu family over the property of the late Biafran leader and Ikemba of Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, has taken a new twist after members of the family allegedly demanded proof that the late Ojukwu was legally married to Bianca Ojukwu, the Nigerian Ambassador to Spain.
The death of the Ojukwu has left his family in disarray and this is the latest update in the tug-of-war currently ongoing with regards to the sharing of the late general’s estate.
This latest development was revealed in a statement of defence filed in court yesterday by one George Uwechue on behalf of some members of the family.In it was contained the assertion that Bianca never married Ojukwu legally.
The Sun reports:
Listed as defendants in the suit instituted by Afamefuna and Nwachukwu, through their mother, are Ojukwu Transport Limited, Prof. Joseph Ojukwu, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, Lotanna Putalora Ojukwu and Dr. Patrick Ojukwu. Others include Mr. Edward Ojukwu, Lota Akajiora Ojukwu and Mrs. Massey Udegbe (doing business under Massey Udegbe and Company).
The claimants, in suit No. LD/1539/2012, prayed the court to declare that they were entitled to the possession and occupation of the property known as No 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Street in Ikoyi, Lagos until the harmonisation of the management and administration of the assets of the first defendant (OTL).
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, the absence of counsel to Bianca and her children forced the court to adjourn the suit till December 10 for adoption of written addresses.
Afamefuna and Nwachukwu had, through their lawyer, Chris Ezugwu, prayed the court to declare as illegal the threat of forceful ejection from 29, Oyinkan Abayomi Street by the defendants. They also urged the court to declare that they were entitled to possess the following property: No. 13, Hawksworth Road, Ikoyi (now known as No. 13, Ojora Road); No. 32A, Commercial Avenue, Yaba, Lagos; No. 30, Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; No. 30, McPherson Avenue, Ikoyi.
Bianca’s children stated that throughout the period their father was struggling to retrieve the property from the government, the second to seventh defendants “never played any role in the struggle nor contributed financially or otherwise to the realisation of the struggle.”
Besides, the claimant is asking for an order of court restraining the defendants, their agents or privies from interfering with the claimants’ possession and control of the properties.
In their statement of defence, the 1st to 7th defendants, through their lawyer, George Uwechue, averred that the subscribers of the memorandum of association of Ojukwu Transport Limited (1st defendant) at incorporation in 1952 were L. P. Ojukwu and Betram Chukwuemeka Obi, adding that the late Ojukwu and one Prof. Joseph Ojukwu (2nd defendant) were later appointed as directors in 1953.
They stated that Ojukwu thereafter ceased to be a director of the company, prior to the Nigerian civil war and was reappointed as a director on December 16, 2005, while the 3rd and 4th defendants were appointed directors in 1954 and 2005 respectively.
They added that the claimants’ statement of claim contained tissues of lies and distorted facts.
Besides, they stated that Ojukwu moved to Enugu State and had not lived at any of the company’s property as alleged by the claimant.
They averred: “The property belongs to the first defendant (the company). The fact is that the claimants’ mother felt she could hold onto the first defendant’s properties. For over 12 years prior to his death, the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu moved to Enugu and since then had not lived at the first defendant’s property as alleged by the claimants.”
They challenged Bianca’s children to show proof of any such agreement, which their late father had, from the first defendant, for him to control and/or manage the properties of the first defendant.