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No evidence Debe was Ojukwu’s son – Court rules in favour of Bianca

No evidence Debe was Ojukwu’s son – Court rules in favour of Bianca


Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, widow of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, won big in court, on Wednesday, when the Enugu State High Court presided over by Justice A.O. Onovo threw away for lack of merit, a suit initiated by the late Chief (Dr.) Debe Odumegwu Ojukwu, who claimed to be the first son of the late Biafra leader.

Debe had gone to court challenging the authenticity of Ikemba’s will, arguing that as the first son of the late Biafra leader, his name was supposed to be contained in the will.

Debe further claimed that Ojukwu’s will was tampered with and sought from the court for an order restraining the defendant, Mrs Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu from interfering with the administration of the estate of the late Ikemba, as well as a declaration that Ojukwu died without writing any will. He also claimed entitlement to letters of administration of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s estate.

The Biafra leader, Ojukwu, died on November 26, 2011. His wife, Bianca, who is the first defendant in the case, as well as Mr James Ezike, the second defendant, were named within Ojukwu’s will, as trustees and executors of his estate.

Debe brought the matter to court in 2013 challenging the validity of the late Ojukwu’s will, insisting that he was the first son of the deceased but was not mentioned or acknowledged in the will.

The issues determined by the court were: Whether the plaintiff had adduced enough evidence to establish that he was a son of the deceased and had been acknowledged as such by the deceased in his lifetime; and whether the deceased’s will was properly and validly made, and were entitled to benefit from the estate of the deceased, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

The plaintiff, Chief Debe Odumegwu Ojukwu died in 2018 while the matter was still pending in the court, but his two daughters, Nene Grace and Obianuju Sarah applied for substitution in the suit which, though challenged by counsel to the defendants, Messrs Emeka Onyemelukwe and Ngozi Abafor, was allowed by the court.

Delivering judgement on the matter which lasted for over two hours, on Wednesday, Justice Onovo held that from all the evidence presented before the court, the plaintiff was not able to prove that he was acknowledged by the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in the course of his lifetime, as his biological son.

According to the Judge, “It is the prerogative of a man to recognize a child born out of wedlock as his child,” maintaining that acknowledgement of paternity could also be inferred from certain acts by a father towards a purported son, and were not evident in the instant case.”

The plaintiff had averred that he had been recognized by groups, associations and other members of society as a son of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, but the Judge queried, “Can Public opinion be the sole basis of determining the paternity of a child born out of wedlock? I do not think so.”

The Plaintiff also challenged the validity of the will of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, citing some typographical errors and signatories, and seeking a declaration that Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu died intestate.

The Court after examination of all the evidence presented before held that the will and codicil were properly and validly made, and valid in the eyes of the law.

On the right of the children of the Plaintiff to challenge Ojukwu’s will, the court held that “in order to have the locus to challenge the will they must first prove that they are the grandchildren of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and entitled to the benefits accruing therefrom.

“Since in the suit initiated by the plaintiff, their father, he was unable to prove himself to be a son of the Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, then on what basis would the children of the plaintiff be challenging the will of the latter?

“Having failed to prove this, they have no beneficiary interest through their father Chief (Dr) Debe Odumegwu Ojukwu, in the estate of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, and there is therefore no merit to this case,” Justice Onovo declared.