The Abia State High Court, Umuahia will on September 28 hear a suit filed by a former chairman of defunct Citizens International Bank, Lady Joyce Udensi Ifegwu.
She sued the court’s probate registrar and six others, seeking to halt the issuance of letters of administration to the second defendant, Okafor Dike Udensi.
Okafor is the son of the late Lord Chief Dike Udensi Ifegwu from his first wife while the other defendants are his siblings.
The deceased’s children had applied to the probate for a letter of administration for their late father’s estate. The late Ifegwu allegedly died intestate.
Other plaintiffs in the suit are Nkechinyere Dike Udensi, Emmanuel Dike Udensi and Margaret Mmannu Dike Udensi.
Urum Udensi Ifegwu, Okorie Udensi Ifegwu, Mrs Iheanacho Kalu Aru (nee Udensi Ifegwu), Kalu Udensi Ifegwu, Eze Osogho Udensi Ifegwu and Agwu Udensi Ifegwu are the other defendants.
Lady Ifegwu claimed that she married the deceased under the Marriage Act, therefore, she was entitled to be issued with the letter of administration.
She prayed for order mandating the second defendant to produce details of rent proceeds and property sales from the estate.
In her statement of claim, Lady Ifegwu said the deceased died intestate. She said there were married for 35 years.
But in their statement of defence, the defendants, who are the deceased’s siblings, claimed that Lady Ifegwu was never married to their late brother.
The defendants said they did not accompany their brother to perform any traditional marriage rites according to the tradition of her place in Delta. They argued that the marriage certificate she is presenting was not genuine.
“Lord Chief Dike Udensi Ifegwu, late, was never married to the First Claimant either as alleged or at all, a position which until recently the defendants had thought to be otherwise.
“Rather on January 7, 1977, the deceased wedded his lawful wife, Eunice Dike Udensi Ifegwu. The said marriage of January 7, 1977 was perfomed in accordance with the customary rites of marriage in Abiriba,” the defendants said.
According to them, some of those rites included the payment of bride price, delivery of customary drinks among others.
“The deceased and his said wife had this relationship until the demise of the former and there was no divorce in acccordance with customary law or under any other law,” they said.
The defendants claimed that their brother was never married to the claimant.
Besides, they said since there was already an existing lawful marriage under the customary law in 1978 when Lady Ifegwu claimed she got married, her marriage to their brother was null and void.
The said it was invalid to contract such marriage under the Marriage Act, adding that there cannot be two lawful marriages, one under the custom and the other under statute between the deceased and two women.