By Simeon OSAJIE
The Oba of Benin Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, has upheld the judgement of Justice H. A. Courage-Ogbebor of an Edo State High court, sitting in Benin City which ordered Madam Enoghayin and Miss Otasowie Ogiemwonyi to take legal and physical possession of late Mr. Washington Osaretin Ogiemwonyi’s property known as 7A, Upper Sokponba Road in Benin City, Edo State capital.
Oba Ewuare II also granted approval for the burial rites of Late Washington Ogiemwonyi in accordance with Benin native law and customs.
Recall that Justice Courage-Ogbebor had on 29th of Jul, 2022, delivered a judgement in suit No. B/421/2021 between Thomas Ogbomo Ogiemwonyi and Mrs Odion Ogbomo (who sued on behalf of the Children of Madam Igbinomwanhia), the Claimants Versus Madam Enoghayin Osunde and Miss Otasowie Ogiemwonyi (Defendants).
The court declared that late Washington Osaretin Ogiemwonyi as the eldest son of his late father, Ogiemwonyi Agbonkpolor and having performed the final burial of his father, inherited exclusively the house No, 7A Upper Sokponba Road, Benin City to the exclusion of the claimants and siblings being the Igiogbe (family house) of the late Ogiemwonyi Agbonkpolor.
Justice Courage-Ogbebor ordered that the defendants immediately bury their husband/father in conjunction with Ogiemwonyi’s family as they have desired.
The court thereafter restrained the claimants by themselves, their agents, servants, or thugs and privies from interfering with the planning, preparing and burial of the late Washington Osaretin Ogiemwonyi at No. 7A, Upper Sokponba Road, Benin City by the defendants.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the court, some aggrieved members of the Ogiemwonyi family dragged Washington Ogiemwonyi’s widow (Madam Enoghayin Osunde) and his eldest daughter, Miss Otasowie Ogiemwonyi before the Palace of the Oba of Benin, seeking to upturn the judgement of the High court.
After listening to the testimonies of the parties to the dispute over inheritance and burial rites of the patriarch of the family, the Chairman of the committee set up by the Palace, Chief Stanley Esere, the Obamwonyi of Benin, joined by other Palace Chiefs, including Chief Oghafua Oyeoba, the Oyeoba of Benin, Chief Osemwegie Ero, the Edobayeokhae, held that it was an incontrovertible fact that the property, No. 7A, Upper Sokponba Road, was given to the eldest son of the family, late Washington Osaretin Ogiemwonyi and exclusively his eldest child after his demise and final burial rites had been concluded.
Accordingly, Chief Obamwonyi ordered the defendants to take possession of the property without any hindrance or challenge by the claimants.
He also berated the claimants for making life unbearable for Madam Enoghayin Osunde (Washington Osaretin Ogiemwonyi’s widow) and Miss Otasowie Ogiemwonyi and her siblings after the death of Washington by staying away from the burial ceremony of the patriarch after all entreaties by his children and Madam Enoghayin Osunde to get the approval of the then Okaigbe (Ogiemwonyi’s family head), Pa. Edionhon Igbinomwanhia, fell on deaf ears.
The Palace committee held that the evidence of Mr. Andrew Omoigui, who deposed to the Palace committee that no family member of Washington Osaretin Ogiemwonyi was informed nor aware of Washington’s burial, was untenable after the court had pave the way for the children to bury their father and announcement made in the mass media.
The committee also berated the claimants for collecting rents from the property for three years in advance after Washington Ogiemwonyi’s death, without recourse to the welfare of his children and widow, describing it as the height of cruelty and sacrilegious in Benin customs and tradition.