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Appeal court sets aside consent judgment

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has set aside the consent judgment that made the Chairman, Managing Director, Bolingo Hotels and Towers Ltd., Cyprian Okechukwu Igweh as the sole Administrator of the Estate of Late Chief Joseph Uchechukwu Igweh.

The three-man panel led by Justice Adamu Jauro, said the consent judgment of the Federal High Court entered on October 11, 2006 in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/237/2006 by Justice Binta Nyako is hereby set aside.

A Federal High Court, Abuja had on December 2018 granted an order of injunction restraining Igweh, from parading himself as the Chairman/Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer of Bolingo Hotels and Towers Limited, Abuja.

Justice Babatunde Quadri had declared that by virtue of the notice dated June 15, 2009 by the Board of Directors of the Bolingo Hotels and Towers Limited and the ordinary resolution dated July 6, 2007 to the effect that Igweh, should vacate his office as Director and Chairman/Managing Director of the Bolingo Hotels and Towers Ltd.

Also, the court ordered by a mandatory injunction that Igweh, render an account and disclose the financial standing of the hotel, which he had unilaterally managed to the counter claimants from October 16, 2006 till date of judgments (December 14, 2018) within 14 days from the date of the judgment.

However, when the late Chief Joseph, died on October 22, 2005 in the Bellview plane crash at Lisa village, Ogun State, two of his children, Chijioke Igweh and Chizoba Igweh were shareholders in the company.

There was internal wrangling over who takes control of the company based on the perception that the widow, Dr. Mrs. Becky Igweh, was making moves to have exclusive control of the hotel.

Thereafter, Dr. Bekky filed a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/237/2006 at the Federal High Court, Abuja wherein she sued three of the children and Corporate Affairs Commission but, Igweh, championed the course of his younger siblings and advised them to all go back to United Kingdom, while he defend the suit filed by Dr. Bekky.

However, both parties (Cyprian and Bekky) reached an agreement and the terms of settlement was only signed by Igweh. The terms of settlement was made the consent judgment of the court on October 11, 2006.

Prior to the settlement move, Igweh unilaterally changed the lawyer appointed to represent his interest and that of his siblings who are defendants in the matter and unilaterally appointed Suleiman Usman (SAN), who is now the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Sokoto State.

Part of the terms of settlement was that Dr. Bekky would relinquish her shares in the hotel and be paid 10 percent of the hotel’s value; set aside the will of their late father while Igweh will be head of the family and solely handles the Administration of the Estate; Dr. Bekky would hand over all title documents of the estate to him and she will in turn be paid N250, 000 every month as upkeep while Igweh will be transparent in handling the affairs of the Estate.

Upon assuming those responsibilities and being granted letters of Administration, Igweh turned around to say that the Estate belongs to him and declared himself Chairman, Managing Director, Bolingo Hotels and Towers Limited.

However, Joseph Igweh and Chuma Igweh, filed an appeal in July 2017 against the consent judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja asking the appellate court to determine whether the lower court was wrong when it entered the terms of settlement dated September 27, 2006 but filed in September 28, 2006 when it was not signed by all the parties to the suit and no fact was placed before the court to show that they consented to the terms of settlement.

The appellants also asked the court to determine that having regard to the provision of section 251(1) of the Constitution as amended, whether the lower court was wrong to have entered the terms of settlement, which nullifies the last Will and testament of late Chief Joseph and also appointed the first respondent as the sole administrator as judgment of the court.

Delivering judgment in the appeal, Justice Jauro said: “There is no evidence in the record of this appeal showing that the 2nd defendant (Igweh) communicated the terms of settlement to the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants in UK by phone or email and that they expressly consented to them.

“There is no evidence in the record of this appeal that shows that 2nd defendant, upon taking over the management of the 3rd respondent in pursuance of the said terms of settlement appointed the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants directors with executive portfolios and that therefore the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants had benefitted from the terms of settlement.

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