A retired Septuagenarian school teacher, Mrs. Beatrice Ihenyen and her sibling, Mrs. Queen Eregbowa, both Nee Okosun, have sued their younger sister, a professor of religious studies at the Ambrose Ali University (AAU), Ekpoma, for alleged falsification of will.
The claimants, in their writ of summons in suit no. B/221/2017, at a Benin high court, are accusing their sister, Prof. Celestina Omoso Isiramen, nee Okosun, of alleged falsification of their late mother, Madam Martina Okosun’s will.
Joined as first and second defendants in the suit are; the Probate Registrar, Edo State and one Madam Elizabeth Akhalu.
The claimants through their lawyer, Mr. J. O. Aghimien (SAN), are alleging that Isiramen, the third defendant, connived with the first and second defendants to forge late Martina Okosun’s will, who died interstate (without a will) on July 20, 2015.
They alleged that the defendants falsified a will purportedly written by their late mother, willing her estate at No. 2, Odemwingie’s Street., off Ewah Road, Benin City to Isiramen, the fourth child of their mother’s six children.
The claimants further alleged that their late mother, prior to her death, suffered mental related illness and senile dementia (memory loss).
They averred that she “lacked the mental capacity to make a will or sign any will as at March 17, 2010 when she purportedly made the will.”
In their claim, they averred that “surprisingly, after her death, at the probate registry, on October 9, 2015, the purported will of the deceased was read amid protest.
“That the signature in the document was not that of the deceased, who was at all material times during her life time an illiterate.”
The claimants are therefore asking the court to declare the purported will as invalid, null and void and of no consequence whatsoever, on the grounds that the will was not only invalidly executed;
“The deceased lacked the mental capacity to make the will as at the time it was made.”
They are asking among other reliefs “an order directing the second and third defendants to give account of their stewardship on the illegal interference with the estate of the deceased in particular.
“An order directing the third defendant to handover all the properties removed from the house of the deceased at Benin city to the first claimant, Ihenyen, being the eldest child of the deceased.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants by themselves or their agents or privies from further committing an act of trespass on the property of the deceased.
“Or doing anything inconsistent with the rights and/or interests of the claimants in the estate of the deceased.”
They are further asking for general damages of N1million for unlawful intermeddling with the estate of the deceased.
But the third defendant denied the allegations, saying that although she is the fourth of their mother’s six children, added that “I am a beneficiary under the will, subject matter of this action.”
Isiramen in her defense’s evidence, filed by her lawyer, Mr. Kingsley Obamogie, alleged that neither was her late mother illiterate nor was the will forged.
The defendant has therefore asked the court to dismiss the case with substantial cost against the claimants, describing the suit as “speculative, gold digging, brought malafide, null and void and of no effect.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, the claimants’ counsel, Mr. Pius Oiwoh, from Mr. J.O Aghimien’s, (SAN) chamber, informed the court that he was ready for the hearing proceeding.
Oiwoh however, informed the court that the second and third defendant’s counsel, Mr. J. O Elenbalulu from Mr. Obamogie’s chamber, had informed him that he could not be in court because he had to take his son bitten by a scorpion to the hospital for medical attention.
While seeking the court’s adjournment of the matter, Oiwoh, however, urged the court not to allow any further frivolous application as the matter was ripe for definite hearing.
Mrs. J.O. Ugbodaga, from the ministry of justice for the first defendant, did not oppose the application for adjournment.
Justice P.I. Imoedemhe, granted the application for adjournment but held that “definite hearing in this case is adjourned to May 21.”
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria