Bianca Ojukwu defeats In-laws in legal battle over her late husband Odumegwu Ojukwu’s estate

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A Lagos High Court in Ikeja has ruled in favour of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, the late Igbo politician Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s wife, and her two children in the decades-long dispute over the administration and control of portions of Ojukwu Transport Ltd.’s assets.

Before his passing in 2011, the late Ojukwu served as a director of the family business OTL.

The lawsuit, LD/1539/2012, was brought before the court by Bianca on behalf of the claimants, her two sons Afamefuna and Nwachukwu, who were still infants at the time of his death, against OTL and seven other people (the brothers of the late Dim Ojukwu, their sons, and a property agent). It concerned an alleged attempt by the defendants to seize the claimants’ home at No. 29 Oyinkan A

OTL, Prof. Joseph Ojukwu, Engr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, Lotanna Putalora Ojukwu, Dr. Patrick Ike Ojukwu, and Arch. are the defendants in the 2012 lawsuit.

Edward Ojukwu, Lota Akajiora Ojukwu, and Messrs. Massey Udegbe (operating under Massey Udegbe & Company) were the claimants in the lawsuits.

According to their claims, on or around August 4, 2011, while their father was ill and hospitalized in London, the 4th to 7th defendants attempted to forcibly take possession of their family home at No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive (formerly Queens Drive), Ikoyi, Lagos. They alleged that after their father’s death and burial, the 2nd to 7th defendants appointed a property agent, the 8th defendant, to take over not only their father’s residence at Oyinkan Abayomi Drive but also other properties under their father’s possession, management, and control, namely No. 13 Hawksworth Rd (now known as 13 Ojora Rd) Ikoyi; No. 32A Commercial Ave, Yaba, Lagos; No. 30 Gerard Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos, and No.4 Macpherson Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos.

After considering the evidence presented by both parties during the proceedings, Justice A. M. Lawal delivered the judgment on June 24 of the current year.

The court ruled in favor of the claimants, emphasizing that they are the biological children of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and, therefore, entitled to their father’s estate, as well as his entitlements as a deceased director and shareholder of the first defendant (the company in question).

Justice Lawal highlighted that “equity is fairness and fairness is equity,” stating that the court of equity would not permit the dispossession of the claimants, who are children of a foundation director of the company, while other directors maintain control and benefit from other properties of the first defendant.

He emphasized that the claimants are entitled to possess and control the assets their late father possessed and controlled in the company, OTL, during his lifetime. The court recognized that the fact that the first defendant allowed the family to live on the company’s assets and derive income from them over the years was a decision of the company by conduct.

The counterclaim filed by the defendants was struck out for lack of competence as the court declared the following:

  • The claimants are entitled to the possession and occupation of the property known as No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, until the harmonization of the management of the assets of the first defendant.
  • The threat of forceful ejection of the claimants from No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, by the defendants is illegal.
  • The claimants are also entitled to the possession of the properties known as No. 13 Hawkesworth Rd, Ikoyi (now known as No. 13 Ojora Rd, Ikoyi); No. 32A Commercial Avenue, Yaba, Lagos; No. 30 Gerard Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos, and No. 4 Macpherson Ave, Ikoyi, Lagos. These properties were under the possession of the claimants’ late father since they were released from government acquisition.
  • The 2nd to 8th defendants are restrained, either by themselves or through their agents or privies, from interfering with the claimants’ possession and control of the five listed properties, which are the subject matter of the suit.
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