A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has delivered judgement in favour of the widow of late Igbo leader and Ikemba Nnewi Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and her children in a case involving the management and control of some assets belonging to Ojukwu Transport Ltd (OTL). OTL is the family company of which Ojukwu was a Director prior to his death.

The Defendants in the suit are Ojukwu Transport Limited, Prof. Joseph Ojukwu, Engr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, Lotanna Putalora Ojukwu, and Dr. Patrick Ojukwu. Others are Arc. Edward Ojukwu, Lota Akajiora Ojukwu, Massey Udegbe (doing business under the name and style Massey Udegbe & Company), and West Africa Offshore Limited.

The suit was filed by the ex-beauty queen on October 9, 2012 on behalf of her two sons Afamefuna and Nwachukwu, who were then infants, against Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) and eight other defendants including the brothers of the late Dim Ojukwu, their sons and the property agent, Massey Udegbe of Massey Udegbe & Company.

Delivering judgment in the case, Justice Abdulfatah Lawal held that the claimants are entitled to the possession and occupation of the property known as No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive (formerly Queens Drive) Ikoyi, Lagos, until the harmonization of the management of the assets of the 1st defendant company.

The judge held that the threat of forceful ejection of the Claimants from No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos by the defendants is illegal, adding that the Claimants are also entitled to possession of the properties known as No 13 Hawksworth Road, Ikoyi (now known as No. 13 Ojora Road, Ikoyi); No. 32A Commercial Avenue, Yaba, Lagos; No. 30 Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos and No. 4 Macpherson Ave, Ikoyi, Lagos.

According to the court, these were some of the properties that were under the possession of the deceased father of the Claimants since the properties were released from Government acquisition.

The court also restrained the 2nd to 8th Defendants either by themselves or through their agents or privies from interfering with the Claimants’ possession and control of the five listed properties, being the subject matter of the suit.

The court held that being the biological children of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the claimants are entitled to the estate of their father as well as his entitlements as a deceased director and shareholder of the 1st defendant.

Justice Lawal held that as a court of equity, it would not allow the dispossession of claimants who are children of a foundation director of the company while other directors are in possession and control of other properties of the 1st defendant and deriving benefits from the same.

Accordingly, the claimants are entitled to possess and control what their late father possessed and controlled in the company (OTL) when he was alive. It was the court’s observation that the fact that the 1st defendant allowed the family of the company to live on and derive income from the assets of the company all these years is a decision of the company by conduct.

The court held that the 2nd defendant who had refused to surrender the properties under his control for joint management could not now lead the battle of dispossessing the deceased director’s children from the properties that were managed by their late father, adding that “This act is enough to make the dead Chukwuemeka Ojukwu shivers (sic) in his grave,”

Justice Lawal also struck out the counter-claim instituted by the defendants for lack of competence.

CITY LAWYER recalls that Bianca had dragged the defendants to the Lagos State High Court, praying the court to declare that the threat of forceful ejection from No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Street, Ikoyi, Lagos by the defendants until the harmonisation of the assets of OTL was illegal.

She also prayed for a declaration that her children are entitled to possess the following properties, namely: No. 13, Hawksworth Road, Ikoyi (now known as No. 13, Ojora road); No. 32A Commercial Avenue, Yaba, Lagos; No. 30 Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos and No. 30 McPherson Avenue, Ikoyi.

The claimants stated that throughout the period their father was struggling to retrieve the properties from the government, the 2nd to 7th defendants “never played any role in the struggle, nor contributed financially or otherwise to the realisation of the struggle.”

The claimants stated that around August 4, 2011 while their father, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was sick and hospitalized in London, the 4th to 7th defendants attempted to forcibly take possession of their home at No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive (formerly Queens Drive), Ikoyi, Lagos.

They stated that after the death of their father and soon after his burial, the 2nd to 7th defendants went on to appoint a property agent, the 8th defendant, to take over not only their father’s residence at Oyinkan Abayomi Drive but also other properties under the possession, management and control of their late father.

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