Confusion over the current address of Bianca, wife of the late Ikemba Nnewi Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, on Monday stalled the hearing of one of the suits arising from family tussle over the properties of the former warlord.
The suit was instituted before a Lagos High Court, Igbosere by Chief Debe Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a lawyer and businessman, who was reportedly disowned by Odumegwu-Ojukwu in his Will.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Jeff Kadiri, told the court on Monday that the court’s Sheriffs had gone ahead to execute an earlier order of substituted service of the papers on Bianca by pasting them on the wall of her home in Enugu, Enugu State.
Justifying the manner of service of the court papers on Bianca, who is Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Kadiri said “as a politician”, she was deemed to be living in both Enugu and Spain.
Justice Adedayo Oyebanji, however, rejected the manner of serving the court papers on Bianca.
She said she was not satisfied with the manner of service, saying it might not have been sufficient to make Bianca to be aware of the existence of the suit.
“I am not satisfied with the service as exhibited before the court,” Oyebanji said.
The judge rejected Kadiri’s argument and ordered that the papers be published in a national newspaper.
Among the eight defendants in the suit, only Bianca was not represented by any counsel at the proceedings on Monday.
Debe and one of Ojukwu’s firm, Silver Convention Nig Ltd., had sued Bianca and six others, urging the court to declare that he is entitled to the properties of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, which he had been denied of.
Others joined as defendants in the suit are a transport comapany, Ojukwu Transport Ltd, Prof. Joseph Ojukwu, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, Mr. Lotanna Ojukwu, Mr. Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Mr. Patricia Ojukwu and Mrs Margaret Nwagbo (Nee Ojukwu).
Debe claimed he had lost “several contracts, business opportunities and goodwill” due to “continuous denigration” by the family.
He also claimed that Silver Convention Nig. Ltd., which he claimed to be running on behalf of the family, provided for him the N100m he spent on the burial of “his late father”.
Debe is, among other prayers, seeking the court to declare that he, “as the first and eldest son of Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu” is “entitled to manage or lead in the management and control of all the disposable assets and belongings” of Ojukwu Transport Limited and those of the deceased.
He claimed that family denied him the opportunity to perform the dust-to-dust burial rites in honour of the deceased and therefore wants the court to declare that he is entitled to collect the military paraphernalia used for the burial of Odumegwu- Ojukwu.
Claiming that his mother, Magaret, gave birth to him on August 3, 1956, Debe asked the court for perpetual injunction restraining the defendants “from tampering or interfering in any manner” with any of “his father’s” real and personal estates.
He also seeks N200m as general damages against the defendants.
Meanwhile, all the defendants, except Bianca had filed their statement of defence, insisting that Debe and Magaret were never known as a members of the Odumegwu-Ojukwu family.
They filed the defence through George Uwechue (SAN).
They claimed Debe was never mentioned by the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu as one of the “eight listed people” in his Will published in the Sunday, December 2, 2012 edition of The Sun.
They claimed Debe only got involved in managing Silver Convention Nig. Ltd through his law firm, Ogbonna Ojukwu & Associates on the strength of a management agreement with the family between 1995 and 2007.
Oyebanji adjourned till May 22 for mention and hearing of application by the defendants seeking an extension of time to file their counter affidavit to the suit.