Posted by By Olamilekan Lartey, Benin on
The estate of a prominent Benin industrialist has become the subject of a protracted legal tussle....
The estate of a prominent Benin industrialist has become the subject of a protracted legal tussle that has turned members of the family against one another.
The late Archbishop John Edokpolor died 10 years ago leaving behind a huge estate in assets valued at several millions of naira. He also left a will on how to administer the sprawling legacy.
Our correspondent learnt on Thursday that some of the children of the late archbishop had instituted a suit at the Benin High Court, praying that the provisions of their fatherís will be strictly adhered to by the administrators of the estate and the executors of the will.
The children alleged that the administrators of the estate had refused to administer their late fatherís estate in accordance with his will.
Justice Edodo Eruga of a Benin High Court, in suit number B/119/05/2004, had in his judgment directed the executors of Edokpolorís estate to carry out their functions strictly in accordance with the provisions of the will.
The judge also directed the trustees and administrators, who were among the defendants in the case, to account for the proceeds of the estate within 90 days of the judgment, from where they began the administration of the estate till date.
But the case, which has been the talk of the town in Benin City, by virtue of the mighty estate and the late Edokpolorís personality, took a strange twist when counsel for the trustees, the law firm of Obayuwana & Co, filed a motion on notice, asking the court to set aside the judgment because it was obtained without service of the originating processes or any of the other processes of the suit on the defendants/applicants.
In a swift reaction, counsel for the children, Chief H. O. Ogbodu, in a counter-motion to the motion on notice, alerted the court that the trustees and executors of the estate had not obeyed the judgment of the court in the first place.
He said rather, they had continued to administer the estate contrary to the judgment delivered on May 25, 2005.
Ogbodu argued that despite the counter-motion on notice filed by the trustees, which was aimed at countering the judgment of the court, they ought to have obeyed the earlier judgment in the first place, before the determination of the motion on notice.
He prayed the court to direct the trustees to obey the judgment of the court.
Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, however, insisted that the judgment was obtained without serving some of the interested parties in the suit the necessary court processes.
He said there had been a presumption of service.
The presiding judge, Justice A. N. Erhabor, adjourned hearing till August 2, to enable Ogbodo to make a full submission on the matter.
The case, our correspondent observed, has generated more than a passing interest as many people reminisced about the late Edokpolor who was a prominent Benin son.