By Alex Enumah
Counsel to the family of the late Dr. Tosin Ajayi, Mr. Taiwo Olawanle of Falana & Falana Chambers has advised wife of the deceased, Mrs. Helen Prest Ajayi; her daughter, Miss Tomisin Ajayi and a firm, First Foundation Medical Engineering Company Limited (owned by the deceased) to cooperate with the family of the late Ajayi over the management of his assets.
The advice was coming on the heels of a warning by Mrs. Helen-Prest Ajayi and the firm to the general public not to intermeddle with assets belonging to her late husband.
They had vide a letter to the Managing Director of Digital Landlords Nigeria Limited and Shorter Homes and to the attention of one Mr. Keji Giwa warned the public against transacting any business with anyone under any guise with respect to landed properties belonging to the deceased pending the regularisation of ownership of the firm.
The complianants in the letter written on their behalf by their lawyer, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), accused one Mrs Oluwayemisi Ajayi of attempting to usurp the powers of the firm.
However, responding to the letter to Giwa on March 18, 2021, lawyer to the family of the deceased, Olawanle, while noting that his client was not ready to join issues with the complainants, urged for cooperation.
“We are Solicitors to the family of the late Dr. Tosin Ajayi (“our client) instructions to respond to the letter dated March 2, 2021.
“We have carefully perused the contents of the letter written by Synergy Attornies on behalf of Ms. Helen Prest. Since the law is very clear on the administration of the estate of Dr. Tosin Ajayi who died intestate, our clients have decided not to respond to the innuendoes and malicious falsehood which lacerated the letter under reference.
“While faulting the position of the complainants’ lawyer on the applicable law regarding the estate of the deceased under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, Olawanle stated that Owonikoko gave a misleading impression that the Estate of Late Dr. Tosin Ajayi will be administered in accordance with the “idi igi” principle under the Customary Law.
“In the first place, the “idi igi” principle applies where a man who died intestate was legally married to two or more wives. However, where a man who was married under the Marriage Act died intestate his Estate will be administered in accordance with the Administration of Estate Law.
“In the instant case, Ms Helen Prest was not married to Dr. Ajayi either under Customary Law or Marriage Act. Hence, Ms Helen Ajayi has been parading herself as the posthumous civil companion of Late Dr. Tosin Ajayi. The case cited by Counsel to Ms Helen in the letter under reference does not support the alien concept of civil companion a form of marriage in Nigeria,” he said.
Olawanle further claimed that as at the time of Ajayi’s demise, he was married to Mrs. Oluyemisi Adenike Ajayi, adding that the two were married under the Marriage Act.
“Ms. Helen Prest was never a wife of the late Dr. Tosin Ajayi. Ms. Helen Prest was never a civil companion of the late Dr. Tosin Ajayi. There is no legal status of “civil companion” known to Nigerian law.
“The property in question is owned by First Foundation Medical Engineering Co. Limited (FF Medical Engineering), a company founded and jointly owned in equal shares by the late Dr. Tosin Ajayi and Mrs. Oluyemisi Adenike Ajayi.
“Ms. Helen Prest has never been, and is currently not a director (shadow or otherwise) or shareholder of FF Medical Engineering or any of its associated companies”, he added.
“In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to advise Synergy Attornies’ clients to cooperate with the family of the deceased in the management of the Estate of the Late Dr. Tosin Ajayi after the Letter of Administration has been obtained”, he added.