Since the Will of the late Ikemba-Nnewi and Ezeigbo Gburu-gburu, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was read on Nov 30, 2012 before members of the family and few journalists allowed to witness the historical event at the probate registry of the Enugu state High Court by the Chief Registrar, Mr Dennis Kehinde Ekoh, it has generated a lot of mixed reactions from different persons within the immediate and larger Ojukwu dynasty of Nnewi. This is according to information available to 247ureports.com.
But one person who has kept her cool since the fire works began was Bianca. While the Will reading lasted she had remained urbane, friendly and unruffled, betraying no emotions whatsoever. Instead, she smiled when Chief Val Nwosu appealed to the Chief Registrar, Ekoh to repeat a particular paragraph where one name, Tenni Hamman was mentioned. Ekoh obliged, and quickly, almost subconsciously Nwosu looked over across Bianca to Chief Mark Ezemba, an engineering consultant, in the long 3-seater settee where they sat to ask who that was. Nwosu is Ikemba’s nephew. His mother was sister to the late Sir Louis Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Ikemba’s father. He was the one who confirmed to Onyemelukwe that the telephone numbers he used to send text messages to Emeka concerning the date and venue of the reading of the Will were active and in use. He also gave him additional number which he equally used, saying, “Emeka please be informed that the Will of your late father, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu shall be read on Nov 30, 2012 at the probate Registry Enugu. Kindly inform your brothers and sister. I have informed Iyom Amb Bianca”. This particular message according to Onyemelukwe was the earliest of three messages he sent to Emeka and he continued reminding them as the date drew nearer.
The lawyer, a native of Nnewi and a Knight of the church then wondered why the young Emeka would say and pretend he was not informed or do not even know him. He said that Ojukwu has no other Will and that no member of the family was aware of the Will before and that’s why many were expecting it was registered in the Anambra High Court.
Chief Nwosu’s enquiry on Tenni had continued outside the Chief registrar’s chambers even after the session when they left the court room. He had insisted on knowing and learning more about the name. His insistence visibly amused Bianca further who then urged him to just accept the situation, “that we now have a new member of the family…” which clear that no one had ever mentioned about to her, not even Ikemba himself.
Ezemba, one of the witnesses to the Will had been a very close friend who was Ojukwu’s Best-man during his wedding to Bianca few years ago, demure quiet and evidently an unassuming soft-spoken man doused the tension when he confirmed to them that he knows about the fellow, a lady. He was the one who disclosed for the first time even to the hearing of journalists that the lady is of the Hausa stock, of the North Eastern Nigerian mother.
Reports later had it that her half brother Emeka acknowledged to some journalists that his late father had during his life time intimated him about her too. That the mother was a Sierra Leonan. It was however not clear whether both siblings ever met. Curiously, considering the listing pattern of the children acknowledged by the late Ikemba, Tenni was much older than Emeka.
In his reaction to the comments following the Will, some of which castigated its authenticity and credibility, Ikemba’s lawyer and confidant who also drew up the document with Ikemba, Chief Emeka Onyemelukwe, while dismissing them, described its genuineness as infallible and sacrosanct.
Speaking to our correspondent in his Enugu chambers said the clarification had become necessary in view of the unsavoury comments credited to some members of the Ojukwu family including one of the sons, Emeka. He said the Will was registered at probate registry of the Enugu High Court on July 9, 2005, while the codicil which was to give details and correct any mistakes or whatever was lacking in the Will was dated Dec 16, 2009.
He tendered various documents, legal papers and court briefs and motions where he was mandated to draft, sign and or represent the late Ikemba in courts and at other such important occasions. The lawyer stated that he was close to him since his return from exile in Ivory Coast many years ago. That virtually all Ojukwu’s legal papers remain in his custody till he passed on Nov 24, 2011 in London. These documents include those of properties and chattels willed to Emeka Jnr who now claimed he never know him as his father’s lawyer or friend. One of the documents, a Power of Attorney registered with the Enugu state Land Registry on July 24, 2009, with which Ikemba transferred ownership of the property at No 7 Forrest Crescent, Trans Ekulu-Enugu and the one at 20 Cadastral, Jabi Dam, Abuja as Deed of Gift to Bianca while he was alive. There was also the documents and file on the case SC/170/2006 in Ojukwu Vs the Director of the State Security Services, the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, the Inspector General of Police and the Federal Government. Onyemelukwe disclosed that he prepared and prosecuted the case since 2006.
He described Emeka assertion that he does not know him as unfortunate and a childish prank, “even when I was the Master of Ceremony at his wedding to the daughter of Chief Cyprian Ekwensi, the late literary giant, in the early 90s” which was consecrated at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu. He saw such claim as childish.
He emphasized that it Justice Iguh who chaired the wedding reception of Ojukwu Jnr which held at Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu. Onyemelukwe was very emphatic that no other person know or saw any of the contents of the will before it was read last week.
WHY BIANCA MOVED OUT
The lawyer also debunked Emeka’s impugning that Bianca, the young wife to his late father apparently had a fore knowledge of the contents of the Will when she sent some aides to move away her personal belongings from the Nnewi house that was eventually willed to him ahead of the disclosure last Friday, Nov 30, 2012. He said that ahead of the Nov 25, 2012 family thanksgiving at Nnewi, Bianca sent some of her aides to clean the house but they were seized and beaten up mercilessly and detained by Emeka. It took the intervention of the larger Ojukwu family and other illustrious sons of Anambra who sued for peace. So, immediately after the event, she decided to move her belongings to another of the many other buildings within premises, to avert further crises and the show of shame.
Onyemelukwe insisted that no other person know or saw any of the contents of the Will before it was read on Nov 30. That in the course of drawing up the Will he repeatedly reminded Ikemba to remember his son Emeka. That it was when Ikemba said that he had already handed over to him a money spinning multi-storey building, a shopping mall of about 40 shops and offices known as No 26, Sokoto Rd, adjacent to the popular Onitsha Main Market to him, just as he had bequeathed 7 Forrest Crescent, Ekulu GRA Enugu and the other property at Jabi, Abuja as gifts to his wife Bianca. That since he gave all his older children the best foreign education possible, he made it possible to give the younger ones from Bianca similar opportunity.
That Ojukwu pointed out to him that since he had earlier given Emeka the property on Sokoto Road in Onitsha it was not necessary bringing it into the Will. He added that it was a property owned and given to Ikemba by his late mother. That it was developed under a lease agreement by UCO Intl Agencies Ltd in 2008. The rights is with Emeka while the developers would continue to manage and collect back proceeds of their investment in an agreed ratio over a specified period before transferring it back fully to Emeka.
DEBE: HIS FATE AND HOW OJUKWU LAMPOONED HIS LAWYER OVER HIM
Again he explained that because he didn’t know about the existence of Debe until one day on his return from exile one man (fully grown Debe) came to his house to tell him he is his son. Shocked as the disclosure was, he then inquired of his mother. But the man (Chukwudebe Sylvester) aka ‘Debe, said she was dead. That she hailed from Udi, but married and died in Ezeagu, in Enugu state.
Ikemba therefore asked him to go and bring the alleged mother’s family members or relations. He accepted to do so and left but never came back till date. That was why Ojukwu listed his children without his mention. It was such that since then any mention of Debe usually drew Ikemba’s ire. He confessed that in the course of the writing of the Will, “when I reminded him to remember Debe, Ikemba demanded to know whether the man had bribed me to make case for him”. And to crown it, Onyemelukwe said that Ojukwu who nomally call him Okwu daa uda, literally meaning, ‘let the words be loud”, lampooned him that henceforth he’s become ‘okwu Dauda’
The lawyer pointed out that Tenni Hamman who studied and is still overseas was born of a mother “from North Eastern Nigeria”, while Njideka gave him Emeka, Okigbo and Mimi. Stella Onyeador gave him Ebele, another daughter. Bianca gave him Chineme, Afam and Nwachukwu.
PANIC SIEZES NEW OWNERS OF JUBILLEE HOTEL
Among the properties bequeathed to his children and relations was Jubillee Hotel, in Zaria which has since been sold. It was apparent that as at the time of drawing the Will Ikemba had no intension of selling it. However, in the codicil it was highlighted and explained. He directed that the executors should then compensate her adequately with proceeds of the sale.
Interestingly, the new owners of the hotel, one Chief Anosike, a resident of Zaria who acquired it alongside one of his business associates, Chief Okosi from Onitsha, were thrown into panic when they read about the bequeathal in the newspapers. It was such that they did not waste time to call Chief Onyemelukwe on the phone to know their fate.
According to him, he doused their tensed nerves by asserting that it was corrected in the codicil, where Ikemba acknowledged he had sold the property. That they had nothing to worry about.
Onyemelukwe confirmed he was the one who drafted the agreement on the sale and transfer of ownership of the hotel between Ojukwu and the buyers, and it was why they reached him at once.