As is common with the will of prominent people with large estates, the question of who should own or inherit what, after the death of the bread winner might continue to rage, as the Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu family now seems torn down the line between the widow, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, on one side and the larger members of the Ojukwu family, led by one of the sons of the late war lord, Emeka (Jnr.), on the other side.
In rejecting the nomination of Bianca as a trustee to the Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL), as read in the will, the directors of the OTL have argued that the company belonged to late Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu and not the personal property of the late Ikemba.
They thus described Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu as a joker, stressing that she has no stake in the company. The directors further contended that Bianca could neither claim the company as the controversial will had conferred on her the trusteeship of the company.
Speaking in a phone interview from Boston United states of America one of the directors of OTL, Mr. Ifeukwu Ojukwu said, “Bianca was neither a trustee member nor a director of OTL and it is good to note that OTL is a different property from the things late Ikemba Ojukwu owned and the directorship cannot be transferred through a will.
“I just came back to Nigeria two weeks ago where I attended a meeting of OTL directors and Bianca was not there and she is not even a member of the board of directors so she can not lay claim to that.”
Ifeukwu further noted that all the directors of OTL are in full support of Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr.) as the head of the Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu family, recalling that “his father told me that he (Emeka Jnr.) was his first son and the head of the in the event of his death. So whatever he decides to do we, are behind him and we will support him.”
However, Prof. Sylvester Ojukwu (Debe), another son, has laid claim to headship of the Ojukwu clan, claiming that he is the de facto first son and not Emeka (Jnr.) Debe was conspicuously left out of his father’s will.
However, Ojukwu’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Onyemelukwe, explained the circumstances surrounding the “omission” of Sylvester in the will. According to Onyemelukwe, “What happened is that Debe came to Ikemba as a grown adult and said: “Sir, I have come to tell you that my mum said you’re my father. Ojukwu said to him, ‘who is your mother,’ and he said she is late but hailed from Udi in Udi council area of Enugu state.
“He also told the Ikemba that the mother got remarried to a man in a community in Ezeagu council area in the same state before she died but had told him that he (Ojukwu) was his father. He then asked him if she had no brothers or sisters that could traditionally bring and introduce him as the son of their sister sired by him. He didn’t even bring a photograph of his mum to guide Ojukwu as a reminder. But he left in the belief that he will come back with his mother’s kinsmen as directed but hadn’t done that till Ojukwu died.”
Meanwhile, Emeka (Jnr.) has taken over the father’s residence in Nnewi, in accordance with the Igbo tradition that the first son would automatically and traditionally inherit his father’s house and compound after death. Emeka (Jnr.) noted that it was left for his father’s lawyer, who prepared the original will to take action before he (Emeka) would contact his lawyer for any possible litigation.
Similarly, the extended Ojukwu-Muojekwu family has kept mum over the matter, as according to a source, who pleaded anonymity, “the matter is a complicated but very simple if everybody can tell themselves the truth. We knew our brother Ikemba and we knew him as a first class brain who would not want his family name to become a thing of public ridicule.”
But Ojukwu’s lawyer, citing several circumstances and occasions to prove the validity of the will noted that he was the one who prepared it and it was the only will prepared by the late Ikemba. The will was read last weekend by the Chief Registrar and Probate Registrar of Enugu High Court Dennis Ekoh.
At a press conference in Enugu, Onyemelukwe maintained that he had been Ojukwu’s lawyer for many years and that the late Ikemba of Nnewi reposed a lot of confidence in him and told him a lot of things. He faulted the claim by Emeka (Jnr.) that he was not informed of the reading of the will and that he was not known to the family as his father’s lawyer, explaining that he sent three text messages to his three phones on November 26.
He said he also sent messages to the executioner of the will, James Ezike and witness, Mark Ezemba, as well as the other brothers and sisters of Emeka (Jnr) and other children of Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu informing them of the reading of the will by 10 am on November 30.
He said that he possessed the irrevocable power of attorney to register No 7 Forest Crescent in Independence Layout, Enugu, which he did on July 24, 2009, with the Enugu State Ministry of Lands as well as the property at No 20 Cadastral, B9, located at Jabi, Abuja, both of which were given to Bianca.
He also said that he had Ojukwu’s brief and represented him in the Supreme Court matter, Emeka Ojukwu Vs IGP, SSS in suit No: SC/170/2006 when the SSS tried to arrest him during the Obasanjo presidency. He said the late Ikemba declared that he had eight children, namely: Tenni Hamman, (daughter), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, (Jnr.) (son), Mmegha (Mimi) (daughter), Okigbo (son), Ebele (daughter), Chineme (daughter), Afam (Son) and Nwachukwu (son).
While Tenni Hamman, he said was a girl Ojukwu had with a girlfriend from North-eastern Nigeria, Ebele was sired with one of his earlier wives, Stella Onyeador, while Emeka (Jnr.), Okigbo and Mmegha were from Njideka his Nnofia-born wife, and the children from Bianca. He explained that it was the reason the codicil, which was meant to correct the flaws in the first will, was enlarged, adding that he was even taken aback that Ojukwu willed his Nnewi house to his first son, Emeka (Jnr.).
According to him, Bianca was instrumental to building the storey building when Ojukwu’s bungalow in the compound got burnt. The mansion was built when Ojukwu was in charge of toll gates during the Abacha regime. He explained that Emeka (Jnr.) had been hostile to Bianca and that the bitterness manifested during the one-year anniversary of Ojukwu’s death, hence Bianca decision after the anniversary to pack her belongings out of the family house.
“So, it is not true that Ikemba Nnewi only gave Emeka (Jnr.) the Nnewi house in his will. He felt he already had something to sustain him. But he gave Bianca the Jabi property and the Enugu property by deed of gift before he died meaning that even if these were included in the will, she inherited them from him before he died.
“There is also no way anybody can take them away from her. He also gave her his cash (money) and personal effects because he felt that after he had trained the other grown up children, he may not be around to train the younger children of Bianca. That is also the reason he felt Bianca should take over his seat at Ojukwu Transport Limited,” Onyemelukwe explained.