A gift of N2 billion by Nyesom Wike, Rivers State governor, to the people of Ogbum-nu-Abali community in Port Harcourt, the state capital, has torn apart a family in the community and prompted bitter legal dispute.
Wike had, as a general compensation and an act of kindness, given the money to the community, with an instruction that it be shared amongst the all family members of the community including women married into the families.
However, some of the family heads were said to have allegedly devised a means to stop some members from partaking in the sharing by disqualifying them, insisting that they were non-members of their family association, which ran contrary to the governor’s advice.
A case in point in this regard was that of the Oro Ada extended family. Two brothers, Theophilus Achigbule, and Chisom Achigbule, and their wives were allegedly prevented from partaking in the gift.
The aggrieved family members who have since filed a suit against the family head and the leader of the women’s association before a Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt division on January 28, 2023, explained that the Oro Ada extended family is headed by Chief Nyeche Amadi, and comprises of the Achigbule, the Amadi, the Chinda, among others.
These families, they said in the suit PHC/301/CS/2023 make up Oro Ada Extended family.
They alleged that the members of Oro Ada extended family received more money each compared to family members in Ogbum-nu-Abali. Their male members got between N1.5 million and N3 million each, while the women got between N2.5 million and N4 million.
The brothers lamented that similar injustice was meted out to them years back in one of their so-called meetings. They recalled that after years of contributing funds with other members, to sponsor the family during a legal battle over some lands with the people of Ogoloma, a neighbouring, other members of family shared the land amongst themselves but gave them nothing family, when judgement went their way
According to the brothers, they believe that their inaction emboldened the family to repeat same injustice.
One of the brothers, Mr. Theophilus explained that he visited the community chief along with their uncle, Mr. Joel Chukwuemeka Achigbule, a Deeper Life Bible Church pastor, two weeks before the money was shared.
According to him, right before his uncle, Chief Nyeche, repeatedly told them that he would share the money between families, and that the family heads from Achigbule, Chinda, among others, would receive the money and share amongst the other members of their respective families, and that it was to avoid conflict of any kind.
He noted that the chief also clarified that the issue of being a member of the family association is not a barrier, but advised him and his brother to rejoin the association thereafter.
On the women’s side, their association is headed by one Mrs. Stella Achigbule, cousin of the complainants. She was approached about two weeks before the sharing by Mrs. Ine Benibo Achigbule, one of the complainants, concerning same issue of membership of association, but she told her that she would receive nothing because she wasn’t a member of the women’s association.
When Mrs. Ine asked for the requirements for membership, so that she could join, Mrs Stella replied that even if she joined then, she would still not get her share, and that it was the consensus of the members. And in keeping with this position, the two sisters, Mrs. Ine and Mrs Josephine got nothing.
To seek redress, the affected family members, Theophilus, Chisom, Ine, and Josephine, took their complaints to the High Court in Port Harcourt.
The affected family members asked the court to compel the first and second defendants, Chief Nyeche Amadi, head of the Oro Ada extended family, and Stella Achigbule, head of the women’s association, to give pay them N3 million each as their own share of the gift.
Specifically, the claimants sought, “A Declaration, that the goodwill and compensation paid to the Ogbun-abali community by the government of Rivers State through the executive governor of Rivers State (a promise made and kept) during the commissioning of Ogbun-abali community road, Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, were for the enjoyment and benefit of all the bona fide, legitimate, legal and natives of Ogbun-abali community as well as the claimants as members of Oro-Ada family.
“An order of this Honourable Court directing the defendants to pay the 1st and 2nd claimants the sum of three million (N3,000,000.00) naira only each as their sharing entitlement rate as male members of the menfolk and the 3rd and 4th Clclaimants the sum of three million, eighty hundred thousand (N3,800,000.00) naira only for each as the sharing rate of every married female member of womenfolk of the Oro-Ada family.
“An order, restraining the defendants, any other member or members of the Oro-Ada family or their agents from discriminating, denying and refusing the claimants from getting shares, rights and entitlements due them from Oro-Ada family.”
Our correspondent reached out to Chief Amadi, head of Oro Ada extended family on March 1, 2023 at 15:45 pm to explain his own side of the story. Instead of giving his account of the story, his lawyer, Barrister Temple Amadi called a staff of the newspaper on March 10, 2023 and warned the platform against publishing the report.
He did not allow the staff to ask questions before dropping the call after issuing the warning.
More to come…