Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Bianca
By Christopher Iziguzo and Charles Onyekamuo
Exactly one year and four days after his death, the last will and testament of the late leader of the defunct Republic of Biafra and Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, was Friday read at the Enugu State High Court, with his widow and Nigeria ’s High Commissioner to Spain, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu and her children getting the lion share.
But if Bianca's pre-eminence in the will had seemed predictable, the surprise revelation is the fact that Ojukwu had a daughter named Teni Hamman Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who was not known to other members of the family.
An apparently stunned Bianca who was present at the reading would later say that though she was not really aware of Teni as a family member, she is convinced that anyone her late husband had cited as his child is his. “So, we now have another member of the family,” she said.
Apart from the surprise inclusion of the hitherto unknown Teni Hamman as the first name among the late Ojukwu’s children, the name of Sylvester Debe Ojukwu who is thought to be the deceased's first son was conspicuously missing from the list, while Emeka Ojukwu (jnr) only got a property in Umudim Nnewi, Ojukwu’s hometown.
The reading of the will after the arrival of the executors, Bianca and James Ezike as well as the witnesses and some family members was preceded by the display of the sealed envelope containing what Ojukwu called his last will and testament by the chief registrar of Enugu High Court.
The late Ikemba stated that only the eight children listed and no other person should be regarded as his children.
These include Teni Harman, Emeka Ojukwu, Mmegha, Okigbo, Ebele, Chineme, Afam, and Nwachukwu.
Both Sylvester Ojukwu and Chukwuemeka (Jnr) were absent. So were Bianca’s children who she said were writing their session examinations.
Among the choice properties bequeathed to Bianca were Ojukwu’s mansion in Enugu, "Casabianca," located at 7, Forest Crescent, GRA.
Bianca also got two properties located at Plot 20, Jabi, Abuja, with Certificate of Occupancy number 4405, as well as another property located at Kuje, Abuja.
The late Ikemba Nnewi also bequeathed to his wife all personal effects, monies and cars for her upkeep and that of her children.
On the controversial Ojukwu Transport Company (OTL), the late Ikemba willed his position in the company to Bianca who he said should take complete charge of his position.
“Bianca and her children should take over my place at the company. She may also wish to appoint somebody to represent her in the board of the company,” the Will noted.
He also allotted to Bianca two hectares of land at Umuezeani Umudim Nnewi in Anambra state to be assessed by her if she remained in the family after his demise.
The will also bequeathed to Teni, the Jubilee Hotels, Zaria. But when the codicil was read, it was observed that the hotel had been sold thus she would receive the proceed from the sale.
Emeka Ojukwu (jnr) who was a commissioner in the Governor Peter Obi administration was allotted a house in Umudim Nnewi. Another of his son, Afam, got the landed property at the Traffic Light area of the same town, while the other daughters, Mmegha, Chinenye and Ebele were given a hectare each of the six hectares he owned at Umuezeana Umudim, Nnewi.
The remaining two he said should go to Bianca if she didn’t remarry after his death. He also directed that his Nnewi property is “to remain a binding legacy to us for generations to come".
Besides, he bequeathed his property at 56, Onwudiwe Street, Uwani, Enugu to his nephew, Robert Diga, as well as the plot of land at Tinker’s Corner, Enugu already registered with the land registry in Enugu.
He said trustees shall hold the remainder of his real estates in trust and shall sell same while holding the proceeds from the sale to pay all debts incurred during his funeral and other expenses.
A cold war had been simmering between Bianca, and directors of Ojukwu Transport Limited, who are brothers of her late spouse, culminating in a lawsuit at a Lagos High Court. The contention is in regard to who should control the landed property owned by the company.
Ojukwu had in the will dated July 9, 2005 and signed by M.N.A. Ezemba directed that his wife take his seat on the board of Ojukwu Transport Ltd, or that she may nominate any person to represent her and shall also retain his interest on 29, Queen’s Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Ojukwu was one of the directors of the company founded by their late father, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu. Apart from living in one of the property at Ikoyi which he (Ikemba) vacated after relocating to Enugu over 10 years ago, Ojukwu was also directly managed some of the property.
These property were seized by the federal government for Ojukwu's role in the civil war. They were only released after a prolonged legal battle.
The property include those situated at 58, Ibadan Street, Ebute Metta, Yaba, Lagos; 29, Queen's Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, where Ojukwu once resided; 41 Macpherson Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos; 13 Hawksworth Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 14 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 2A and 2B Park Close, Apapa, Lagos; 32A Commercial Avenue, Yaba, Lagos; Nnewi Building, 1/3 Creek Close, Apapa, Lagos; 120 Agege Motor Road, Mushin, Lagos; 4A and 4B Park Close, Apapa, Lagos; 196 Igbosere Road, Lagos; 15 Oshodi Street, Lagos and 15/16 Forces Avenue, Port Harcourt.
After the death of Ojukwu, the Ojukwu Transport Limited was left with six directors namely Professor Joseph Ojukwu, Emmanuel Ojukwu, Lotanna Putalora Ojukwu, Dr. Patrick Ojukwu, Edward Ojukwu and Lota Akajiora Ojukwu while an estate management consultant, Mr. Massey Udegbe of Massey Udegbe & Company was appointed by the directors to manage the property.
But, all the simmering crisis was temporarily laid to rest yesterday as the will of the late Ojukwu was read by the chief registrar Enugu Judiciary and probate registrar, Mr. Dennis Ekoh, though with some surprises.