From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin City
A dispute has arisen among family members over the estate of former director-general of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies, CDS, Omo Omoruyi, who was buried less than two months ago.
The family members had disagreed over Omoruyi’s burial arrangements as his two biological children – Amenze Omoruyi-Okungbowa and Ivie Oyenmwen Omoruyi- Idehen – both women, said to be based in Canada and the United States, had insisted on seeing their father’s corpse before the arrival of their brothers and mother from the US.
The dispute delayed plans for the burial but was eventually resolved by the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, David Edebiri, who is said to be a relative of the Omoruyi family.
Now the two daughters have instituted a case at a Benin City High Court challenging the purported will of their father and urging the court to declare that the two adopted sons of their father cannot be beneficiaries of his estate.
Joined as defendants in the suit are Union Edebiri, Donald Omorodion (executors of the will of the late Omoruyi), Imuetiyan Festus, Iduoze Nehikhare, Owere Dickson Imansogie, Sunday Omoruyi, Eghosa Omoruyi (younger brother to the deceased), Courage Omoruyi and the probate registrar.
In the writs of summon by the counsel to the claimants, N.P Osifo, the two daughters want the court to declare their father’s will null and void, as the concept is contrary to Bini native law and customs.
They also argue that the concepts of adopted male children are unknown to Bini native laws and customs and, therefore, not entitled to inherit properties from their adopted father.
Alternatively, they want a declaration that the two adopted children, being witnesses to the said will, cannot under the Will’s Act be beneficiaries under same will.
They also want the court to declare that the purported gifts to the adopted sons who were said to be witnesses to the said will now becomes the bonafide property of claimants being Omoruyi’s biological children.
Other prayers sought by the claimants include:
“A declaration that the signature purported to be signature of the claimants’ father on the will dated 28th September, 2013 is not his signature.”
“A declaration that a will that is lodged with the Probate Section of the High Court after the death of the Testator is not the Will of the Testator.”
“A declaration that the will dated 28th September, 2013 which was lodged in November 2013 is open to serious doubt as to its correctness and actual custody particularly when the Testator had died before it was lodged.”
Omoruyi died in Benin City on October 14, 2013 after a protracted battle with cancer.