Four children of a former military governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Idongesit Nkanga, have urged the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Jabi, Abuja, to help them reclaim their deceased father’s family house in the capital city.
The children – Utibeabasi Nkanga, Etietop Nkanga, Lance Nkanga, and Ini-Idara Nkanga – and their mother, Joanna, urged the judge, O A. Musa, to invalidate the warrant of possession of premises issued in favour of their step-mother, Mosun Nkanga.
The youngest among the children, according their lawyer, is 25 years old.
Mosun is the widow of Mr Nkanga, a former military governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Nkanga, a retired air commodore, passed away in December 2020. His death arose from COVID-19 complications.
He sired six children, two females from Mosun, and four males from Joanna Achibong, the deceased’s former wife.
Mr Nkanga married Mosun in 2007 after his marriage to Joanna was dissolved by a court.
Request to retake property
The children through their lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, on Thursday, pleaded with the judge to hear an application in which they are asking the court to nullify eviction by their stepmother, Mosun.
Relying on an earlier order by the judge, Mr Musa, on 6 June, Ms (Mosun) Nkanga expelled her step-children and their mother from the family house at the upscale Asokoro area of Abuja.
The order dated 24 March 2022, issued Ms Nkanga a warrant for “an immediate possession of two rooms apartment” in her deceased husband’s estate at No. 3A and B Mary Slessor Close, off Udo Udoma, off Yakubu Gowon Road at Asokoro.
In a submission on Thursday, Mr Effiong said, “My Lord, at the moment, the children are homeless.”
Recalling the eviction exercise, Mr Effiong said one of the children “was seen being chased out in a video during an eviction process by the judgement creditor (Ms Nkanga).”
He added that the children had lived at the property before Mosun was married by their late father in 2007, urging the judge to hear and determine the application before the looming annual judges’ vacation.
Ms Nkanga counters stepchildren’s claims
However, Ms Nkanga’s lawyer, Marvin Omorogbe, told the judge that there was no urgency in entertaining the children’s request to nullify the eviction order it earlier made.
Contrary to Mr Effiong’s claim that his clients were homeless, Mr Omorogbe argued that “at the time of the eviction the children were holidaying in France.”
“There is nothing before this court to suggest that these boys are homeless,” Mr Omorogbe said, urging the judge not to transfer the application to a vacation judge as requested by Mr Effiong.
Mr Omorogbe complained of the media reportage of the disputed property, urging the judge to “restrain lawyers from making comments that will prejudice the issues before the court.”
Judge promises to revisit order
After taking arguments from both lawyers in the suit, Mr Musa said the court had a duty to “revisit whatever it did.”
The judge said the court’s docket was congested and advised the children to “find a place to stay pending when I return from the annual vacation.”
He cautioned journalists against armchair reporting of court proceedings.
The judge asked journalists to attend court sittings with the intention to report them accurately.
He adjourned the suit until 1 September for hearing.
Mrs Nkanga first sued her step-children children and their mother in 2021 over their “refusal” to grant her access to the Asokoro property.
Ruling on the matter on 17 March 2022, the court held that refusing Ms Nkanga access to her matrimonial home violated her fundamental human rights to own and have an interest in her late husband’s property.
Consequently, the court barred Joanna and her children from restraining or interfering with Mosun’s right to live in or enjoy her matrimonial home, pending the issuance of a letter of administration or grant of probate over the estate.
An extract of Mr Nkanga’s will, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, showed that there are two wings – 3A and 3B– with two duplexes on the premises of the Asokoro property.
The former governor gave one wing, 3A, to his wife, Mosun.
He gave the second wing, 3B, where he lived before his demise, to his children to live as a family house on the condition that it should be reverted to his wife, Mosun, when his last son, Ini-Idara, turned 30 years.
Earlier, Mr Effiong told this newspaper that Mr Nkanga’s last son, Ini-Idara is 25 years and that Mrs Nkanga should not have taken possession of the building until Ini-Idara is 30, as stated in the will.
He clarified that Mrs Nkanga had not gotten the letter of administration or grant of probate over the estate as directed by the court before taking possession of the premises, describing her action as an abuse of court processes.
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