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 the case involving the management and control of some of the assets of Ojukwu Transport Ltd (OTL) the family company of which her husband was a director prior to his death.
The suit filed by Bianca Ojukwu in 2012, on behalf of the claimants being her two sons, Afamefuna and Nwachukwu who were infants at the time, against Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) and seven others ( brothers of the late Dim Ojukwu, their sons and property agent) before the court, over their alleged move to take possession of their residence at No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos as well as some of the company’s property in Lagos which were under the management and control of their late father, Dim Ojukwu.
The Defendants in the suit filed in 2012 are: Ojukwu Transport Ltd, Prof Joseph Ojukwu, Engr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, Lotanna Putalora Ojukwu, Dr. Patrick Ike Ojukwu, Arch. Edward Ojukwu, Lota Akajiora Ojukwu, and Messrs. Massey Udegbe (doing business under Massey Udegbe & Company).
The claimants stated that at about August 4, 2011, while their father Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was sick and hospitalized in London, the 4th-7th defendants attempted to forcibly take possession of their home at no 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive( formerly Oueens Drive), Ikoyi, Lagos, and that after the death of their father and soon after his burial, the 2nd-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 father, 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.
The Court, presided over by Justice A. M Lawal having regard to all the evidence adduced by the parties in the course of the proceedings spanning about 10 years was of the opinion in his ruling of 24th June, that the Claimants, being biological children of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and by virtue of which, therefore, they are entitled to the estate of their father as well as his entitlements as a deceased director and shareholder of the Ist defendant.
The Hon. Justice further stated that Equity is fairness and fairness is equity and 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 hold and control of other property of the Ist defendant and deriving benefits from the same.
Therefore, 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 allows 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.
Furthermore, the 2nd defendant who had refused to surrender the properties under his control for joint management cannot now lead the battle of having the deceased director’s children hounded out of possession of the properties that were managed by their late father. The learned judge pronounced that ‘this very act is enough to make the dead Chukwuemeka Ojukwu shiver in his grave’.
The counterclaim instituted by the defendants were struck out for lack of competence and the court declared as follows: That the Claimants are entitled to the possession and occupation of the property known as No. 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive (formerly Oueens Drive), Ikoyi, Lagos, until the harmonization of the management of the assets of the Ist defendant; That the threat of forceful ejection of the Claimants from No.29 Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, by the defendants is illegal; That 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, which were some of the properties that were under the possession of the late father of the Claimants from the time the properties were released from Government acquisition
That the 2nd-8th Defendants are restrained either by themselves or through their agent or privies from interfering with the Claimant’s possession and control of the 5 listed properties, being the subject matter of the suit. Present as the Judgement was read were the Ist, 5th and 8th Defendants, with the 5th Defendant, a director of the Ist Defendant representing the Ist Defendant.