Oct 27, 2013 – Bianca & Ojukwu’ Wedding Held In Abuja In 1994; Sir Azuka Okwuosa Defends Bianca
A very close friend of the late Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has come open in defence of Bianca Ojukwu, the legal wife of the deceased.
This came in after late Ojukwu’s family members claim the now Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Bianca wasn’t legally married to their brother.
In defence of the late Ikemba’s wife was, Sir Azuka Okwuosa, who has described the claim as wicked and the biggest lie that could only come from the pit of hell.
Okwuosa, a close confidant of Ojukwu while he was alive told Sunday Sun in Enugu that he was a page-boy at Ojukwu’s wedding held in Abuja in 1994, where his relations, including those who had now turned back to say that Bianca was not legally married, were in attendance.
He also disclosed that eight years after the Abuja church wedding the same people accompanied Ikemba to the late Chief C.C. Onoh’s residence in Nkwo, Enugu State where Ojukwu consummated in accordance with the native laws and traditions of Igbo land the traditional marriage of Bianca.
Okwuosa who was a former chairman of the Nnewi Local Government during the military era, therefore, cautioned the members of the Ojukwu family to have some restraints as they try to sort out their differences in court as they had refused his earlier advice to them to follow the path of dialogue. Excerpts:
You read the papers today and saw what they said about Bianca Ojukwu, that she was not legally married to the late husband, how true is this claim?
Yes, I was bewildered this morning, early in the morning even before the newspapers came out I had read it online in The Sun newspaper and later on Daily Independent; I was shocked when I read the newspapers reporting that the brothers of the late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu were claiming that the widow, Bianca was not legally married to him and that the children are not legitimate. I felt highly disturbed by this issue coming at this time; you remember vividly at the inception of this crisis when they were throwing diatribes at each other, I was the one who advised them that they should not wash their dirty linen in public, that they can dialogue at the family level and if they cannot resolve their differences they should quietly go to court to resolve the issue. But unfortunately, they couldn’t resolve this at the family level and hence they resorted to go to court as their last alternative. And in pursuing this last alternative I would have preferred that the family do not throw decorum to the winds considering not just the image of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, but also the entire family of the Ojukwu dynasty. The issue of mere materialism cannot be enough point to destroy a name which has been bequeathed to them by their grandfather and great grandfathers. Therefore, I feel they should look at the larger picture and act with great restraint as they try to resolve their differences in court.
But was the marriage actually illegal?
I was really amazed by the reports this morning because I still remember in 1994 when I was the chairman of Nnewi North Local Government Area which comprises Nnewi and Ekwusigo today; 1994 was when Ikemba consummated his wedding in a marriage at Abuja. I remember then as a local government chairman under a military dispensation, if you want to travel out of the state you have to apply. So myself and my friend, Commander Chudi Egbo (rtd) who was then the chairman of Njikaoka local government, we did apply and I remember that part of the reasons we gave was that we were privileged to attend the wedding of this icon who we were privileged to be given a role as page boys. It was a very big laughter before His Excellency, the then governor and he approved it. At Abuja, it was a well celebrated wedding, the whole movers and shakers, dignitaries in this country were in attendance. Starting from the church service, the reception took place at Nicon Noga Hilton, I still recollect that Umaru Dikko was there, the late governor Rimi was there, the late Sam Mbakwe was there, Dr Alex Ekwueme was there, Jim Nwobodo was there and a host of others. It was like a large gathering of who’s who in Nigeria irrespective of tribe or tongue. I remember vividly that it was Umaru Dikko that did the closing prayers and the best man to the late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu at that wedding was Engr Mike Ezemba who is still alive and lives in Enugu today; I have pictures of that wedding. I know that after that wedding the marriage certificate was issued at Kaduna because most churches then in Abuja always went to Kaduna to get such documents. I am also aware that most of the members of the Ojukwu family, including those making this claim now were at that wedding, his brothers, nephews and nieces. And subsequently, about eight years later we went to do the traditional marriage at the late Chief C.C. Onoh’s residence at Ngwo. And on that day, virtually all the family members were there and even on uniform. So, to me, this issue of whether being legally married or not is out of place and shouldn’t be an issue because they know unless there is something that missed the eye.
Are the eight people that are in court part of the family members that attended the wedding?
Yes, almost all of them were there; Lotanna was there, almost all of them, the pictures are still very much there and pictures they say do no tell lie and I believe it has not come to the point of denial because there are evidence to prove that. But the most important thing I believe is that there should be some level of maturity, the quest for materialism should not be a basis for the family members to start dissecting themselves in the public because I do know that what the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu represented went beyond that and for people to now start saying that his dear wife was not legally married, to me, is the biggest lie from the pit of hell.
Did anything contrary to tradition happen on the day of the wedding that may have caused these people to think the wedding was illegal or what?
Absolutely nothing contrary happened, everything happened in accordance with the native laws and tradition of Igbo land. People who are still alive that attended that traditional marriage are still there, Chief Ozoko Akuzu, the Onowu Igbo is there, Prof ABC Nwosu was there, O. G. Nwosu was there, the late Fred Enweonwu from Onitsha was there and a host of other prominent people. The event happened till late in the evening and the musician who performed on that day was the late Oliver de Coque, it was a very grand occasion that lasted into the night and people had fun and enjoyed themselves. Actually, the traditional marriage came many years after the church wedding, but the most important thing was that everything that was supposed to be done in a properly consummated marriage was done, starting from the church, court to traditional marriage.
How do you feel as an associate of Ojukwu about what is happening now in his family?
I feel very pained in my heart because this is a family I love so much considering the fact that my mentor, Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu was a man of legendary proportion who was not noted for materialism. He was a man who lived a humble life. He never occupied more than one, two buildings in Lagos, that was 29 Queen’s Drive Lagos, I can recall vividly. In fact, there was a time he had to fight with the Lagos State Government because of the place. He followed the rule of law. It was the late Rotimi Williams that handled the case and he won the case and took possession of that house. And he lived in that place till he died. To me, I feel the family members should exercise a little bit of restraint and try as much as possible to look at the larger picture knowing full well that wherever Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu is lying in his grave and looking at what is happening on whether the wife he actually consummated in marriage is actually his legal wife, he will actually be at pains because this is a woman he loved so much. This is woman he adored so much and a woman he cherished so much. For me, I don’t think this ought to have been an issue of debate; it should not have been contemplated in the first place. The children are there, I remember whenever he looked at the kids, he would always tell me, you know the son, Afam, he would say this is the true carbon copy of the father, if you see him you have seen Ikemba. These are lovely kids he so much loved and during his lifetime there was no dispute of his being the father of those children. So, these things are happening at this period because of selfish quest for materialism which is not proper. Inasmuch as people disagree there should be rules of engagement because the family name should be sacrosanct and the image of the family should not be compromised over petty issues like property. So, anything happening in the contrary, the Igbo nation will not be happy because Ojukwu was the icon of our people and a man who symbolized the main apex of respect for our people and whenever we remember him, we remember our great past from where we look into the future. So, we wouldn’t like that name to be disrespected or messed up with this kind of issue.
[Interview By Sunday Sun Enugu]