By Akinwale Akintunde
Justice Abdulfattah Lawal of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, has fixed February 21, 2020, for parties in the suit filed by Bianca Ojukwu, the widow of late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, against Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) and seven others.
Bianca had, on behalf of her two children, Afamefuna and Nwachukwu (Claimants) dragged Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) and seven others before the court, over an alleged move by the company to eject them from the company’s property located in Lagos.
Other Defendants in the suit filed in 2012 are: 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).
Justice Lawal fixed the date following conclusion of the testimony of the final witness, Massey Udegbe, at the last hearing of the suit on Friday November 22, 2019.
Udegbe, who is the estate agent for OTL, testified about his Power of Attorney, appointment, and his meeting the late Dim in Enugu, regarding authorisation granted by the latter to him, Udegbe, to inspect the property situated at 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Street, Ikoyi which belongs to OTL.
Bianca, who had earlier testified before the court, had objected to attempts by the Defendants to include Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Jnr, also an OTL Director, as a party/Defendant.
The widow had told the court that, she is the only wife that was legally married among Ojukwu’s wives in court, church and traditionally.
But, the Ojukwus had denied paragraphs in her claim stating that she was a wife of the late Ikemba and that the children were his, insisting on subjecting her to proof thereof.
She had informed the court that, some of the OTL properties in question, had been in the possession of her late husband before his demise, adding that, the rent of those properties were being collected by her husband.
She also had, in their statement of claim, prayed the court to declare the ‘threat of forceful ejection’ from 29 Oyinkan Abayomi Street by the Defendants, illegal, and is asking the court for a declaration that her children are entitled to possess the following properties: 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. 4 Macpherson Avenue, Ikoyi.
However, in their statement of defence filed on their behalf by George Uwechue, SAN, the Defendants dismissed the Claimants’ statement of claim as being full of lies and distorted facts, accusing her of “being greedy.”
The case has lasted over seven years, with former CJ Atilade presiding, initially. Bianca was not present in court.
OTL Director, Dr. P Ike Ojukwu, present in court, said that OTL was grateful that all parties were accommodated at the last hearing, considering the Court’s tight schedule.
He also expressed the company’s relief, that the matter was finally coming to an end.
On talk of purported ‘settlement’, Dr. Ojukwu stated that, this had been explored in the past, that the company was expecting a favourable judgement, and that Bianca, as far back as 2012, prior to her instituting the suit, was made aware of the right thing to do and the approach to take.
OTL restated that, the properties belong to OTL.
In the last seven years of the case, apart from 30 Gerard Rd, Ikoyi, occupied by one Mr. Uche Obilor(who has refused to pay over N84 million rent due), the company has been denied over N420 million in rent, not to mention legal costs.
Meanwhile, some of the properties, including 29 Oyinkan Abayomi, Street, Ikoyi, have continued to deteriorate, the company stated.