The crisis within the family of late Dr Tosin Ajayi, the Founder of First Foundation, has taken a new turn as his Children from his first wife are battling former beauty queen, Helen Ajayi over his properties in her care.
According to PUNCH, Ajayi died without leaving a will on how his properties will be disposed of.
Leaving behind investments running into billions of naira, without a will, has now deepened the crisis within the family.
The beauty queen had reportedly blocked an attempt by her husband’s older children to take over a property measuring 3.7 hectares of land at Ilasan, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State.
In a letter signed by Helen’s lawyer, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), which was addressed to Ajayi’s first family lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), it was argued that the ex-beauty queen could be recognised as a wife because she was a companion of the deceased for 25 years.
The letter, which was dated March 2, 2021, is titled: ‘Caveat against meddling in property situated at Ilasan Village, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State measuring 3.873 hectares identified as Block A in survey plan No. Pls 294A/Lag.89; other assets or held in First Foundation Medical Engineering Company Limited and all intestate assets of Dr Tosin Ajayi (deceased)’.
The letter read in part, “We are solicitors to Mrs Helen Prest-Ajayi and Miss Tomisin Ajayi, being the wife (via civil companionship) and daughter of late Dr Tosin Ajayi, the deceased beneficial owner of the property but held in the name of a company, which he was in his lifetime, the alter-ego.”
Prest-Ajayi’s counsel claimed that Helen was a shadow director in the company through which the deceased acquired the properties.
Owonikoko further argued that in Yoruba custom and tradition, when a man dies, the eldest surviving son called the ‘Dawodu’ becomes the leader of the family, but if there is going to be an important dealing with family property, “All branches of the family must be consulted and representation on the family council is per stripes (branch) according to the number of wives with children.”
Responding on behalf of Falana and Falana Chambers, Mr Taiwo Olawanle, said Helen could never be described as a wife since she was not married to Ajayi based on the Marriage Act.
In a letter dated March 18, 2021, he said Helen was not legally married to the deceased, hence, has no right to his inheritance.
“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 the 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 for Ms Helen in the letter under reference does not support the alien concept of civil companion as a form of marriage in Nigeria.”