Family members of the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu have asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss the N100m suit filed by Debe Ojukwu, challenging his exclusion from the burial rites of the deceased.
The family members, including the deceased’s wife, Bianca, and Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, named as the first son in the Ikemba Nnewi’s Will, opposed the suit, declaring that Debe was not a member of the Odimegwu-Ojukwu family.Though Bianca had yet to have any legal representation in the suit, others, including Emeka, who responded to the suit, faulted Debe’s claim that he was Ojukwu’s first son.
Emeka and other members of the family are asking the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.Ikemba died on November 11, 2011 at age 78.In the counter-affidavits filed by the respondents through their lawyer, Chief George Uwechue (SAN), they contended that the applicant did not appear in the late warlord’s Will as one of his children.
Emeka, in an affidavit, said he was not aware of any Margaret, who Debe claimed to be his mother, as his late father’s wife.He stated, “The applicant, to the best of my knowledge, as well as to the Ojukwu family, is not and has never been a grand-child of the late Sir L.P.O Ojukwu.
“The applicant is not the son or the first son of my father, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.“The last Will and Testament of my late father, dated July 9, 2005, duly certified by the Probate Registry Enugu, did not include the name of the claimant in the list of his eight children.
“I was listed as No. 2 and the eldest male child. He (the late Ikemba Nnewi) specifically named me as his ‘first son.”Debe, a lawyer, is seeking a declaration that the alleged threat to his life by the respondents amounted to a violation of his rights.He alleged, in the suit filed on October 5, 2012, that the respondents threatened his life during meetings for the deceased’s burial in Lagos, a development that resulted in his not performing the funeral rites of his “father”.
He, therefore, sought N100m as exemplary and punitive damages against the respondents for the alleged violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed by provisions Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution.