Vanguard (Lagos)

7 December 2012

Nigeria: Will - Did Ojukwu Subvert Igbo Tradition?

One year after the death of Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, the acclaimed Eze Igbo Gburugburu, precisely on November, 30, 2012, his Will was read before some members of his family.

The Will, which stated how he shared his wealth to family members, was presented by the Chief Registrar of the Enugu High Court, Mr Dennis Ekoh and was witnessed by Ojukwu's Bianca, Mr Val Nwosu, Ojukwu's first cousin, and Mr Mike Ejemba.

The Will was received with mixed feelings and has been generating too many controversies. Some have described the Will as ruse and accused Bianca and her lawyer of allegedly causing trouble with the issue.

Beneficiaries

The Will listed Ojukwu's children as Tenny Haman, Chukwuemeka Jnr, Mmegha, Okigbo, Ebele, Chineme, Afam and Nwachukwu.

Who gets what

According to the Will, the Ikemba gave the Casabianca Lodge at No. 7, Forest Crescent, GRA, Enugu, two property at Jabi and Kuje in the FCT as well as all his money and personal effects to his widow.

He also said that Bianca should replace him as the trustee in the family company, Ojukwu Transport Ltd, while also giving her two plots of land in his village at Nnewi if she does not re-marry.

The first son, Emeka Jnr., got the family house at Nnewi, while the newly mentioned daughter, Tenny Haman, got the Jubilee Hotel located in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The Biafran warlord also shared other landed property in the village among all his children.

The problem

The name of Sylvester Ojukwu popularly called "Dede" was conspicuously omitted from the list said to be endorsed by Ojukwu himself as his children just as Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr) only got a property in Umudim Nnewi, Ojukwu's hometown as his entitlement.

In rejecting the Will, Ojukwu Jnr. called it a ruse. According to him, it was not a fair deal as he got only a house in Umudim Nnewi. He was quoted as saying that he did not need any Will to take over his father's house in Nnewi.

According to the report, Ojukwu Jr. said he had taken over the house according to Igbo tradition that stipulates that the first son should automatically and traditionally inherit his father's house and compound in the event of the father's death.

"What I have to say about the Will is my position on it. It is Bianca and the lawyer that are doing what they are doing. We are waiting for the Will to be read; then I can make a statement on it. For the Will to be read, all of us, my brothers and all the beneficiaries would have to be present. And if the Will does not reflect the wish of my father, which we all know, we shall go to court," he said.

The question now is: Did Late Ojukwu act contrary to Igbo culture and tradition? Do you think the Will was truly endorsed by him, considering the fact that one of his oldest sons was omitted in the Will? What do you make out of the Will?

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