•An Estate in UK
Mark N’wogo (as written in an official document), was a Nigerian said to have been born in Sapele, Delta state, and died on December 9, 1992 in Surrey, United Kingdom but for almost 30 years now, the assets he left behind have remained unclaimed. By December, they would become forfeited to the British government.
He was said to have served in the Navy, which listed his year of birth as 1926, and having an undisclosed relative in Sapele, but neither this person nor any others have come forward to claim the assets left behind by the deceased (whatever value they may have now).
BusinessDay analysis of data by the UK government, through the list of unclaimed estates held by the Treasury Solicitor and last updated on September 8, 2022, identified N’wogo among 56 Nigerians officially recorded to have died in the United Kingdom in the last 30 years and their assets still unclaimed. The values of these estates are not disclosed but only available information about their deceased owners.
A familiar name on the list is a certain Victor Adedapo Olufemi Fani-Kayode, said to have died on August 15, 2001 in Birmingham, with the informant on his death listed as the Birmingham City Council.
The Treasury Solicitor publishes a list of unclaimed estates which have been recently referred, but not yet administered, and historic cases which have been administered but not yet been claimed within the time limits for doing so. Estates, where the 30-year time limit from the date of death has expired, are also removed.
“We often hear of accounts of deceased persons in financial institutions that are never claimed and are never made public by these institutions. I believe we can borrow a leaf from the practice in the UK in this regard to promote transparency,” says Olaitan Akinnubi, a lawyer based in Lagos. “I believe that information about deceased persons and their unclaimed assets being made public in the UK is something that is worthy of emulation here in Nigeria.”
For most of the deceased, there is little information on relatives to whom their assets may be transferred, and those with available information, it is quite scanty and hard to trace beneficiaries.
The list includes a certain Arbel Aai’Lotta’Qua Abouarh that died on February 5, 1998 in Chiswick, London and thought to have different variations in the spelling of his name. Information on file indicates that he may have been married in December 1959 (place unknown) and had 4 children from the marriage.
It is further stated he was born in Northern Nigeria on or about the 3rd March 1930 and his parents are said to be Alfred Hallim Abouarh and Addanue Abouarh nee Onwudachi. Information on file also indicates that he had a sister (deceased) and a twin brother (possibly living in Germany).
There is also a Paul (Akinola) Bernard who was born in Lagos and died in London on October 12, 2008. Available information suggests he married a 2nd wife, Marie Vidarte de Castro in 1970, but she had also died in August 2008. He is believed to have a daughter from his first marriage which ended around 1970.
Born in Ibadan on August 2, 1958, John Olaolu Bankole died in London on April 27, 2010. Information available includes a Decree Absolute dissolving the deceased’s marriage on 11 November 2002, while his marriage certificate states that his father’s name is Oladipupa Bankole.
While Enwukwe Graham Kwedi Edde, who died on January 6, 2011 in London is only known to have been born in Diobu, River State, Charles Ayodele Aliu, who died on March 31, 2011 in Solihull, West Midlands is said to “have possible cousin in Nigeria”.
Sunny Eyo Edem, who died on September 16, 2011 in Fulham is believed to have a “Possible son and relatives in Calabar, Nigeria”. Also, William Kadry, who died on November 1, 2011 in Fulham, is said to have been born in Iponri, Lagos State, and his father Akanni Kadiri died in 1941, while his mother Muniratu Kadiri died 1958.
Recent additions to the list include Solomon Adekanmibi who died on January 31, 2021 in Colchester, Essex; Eugene Bucknor, who died on March 2, 2021 in Brockley, London; Jeff Adhekeh, who died on March 12, 2021 in South Kensington, London and Louisa Holmes, who died on May 24, 2021 in Cheam Sutton.
According to Akinnubi, the legal practitioner, “for the relatives of any such deceased person or any other person entitled to the estate of any of the listed deceased persons, it is advisable that they engage a Probate Solicitor or Practitioner in the UK to help and guide them through the process of obtaining letters of administration in respect of the deceased person’s Estate in the UK.”
He further said a lesson to be drawn from this, is the importance of writing a will while one is alive. Once a person starts acquiring properties (real or personal), they should start thinking of writing a will, he advices, as this would help their family, friends and loved ones identify their assets and administer them accordingly upon their death.
“Who knows if the relatives of any of these deceased are languishing in poverty while their dad, brother, son, etc has property of value in the UK? If these assets are not claimed after a long period of time, they become bona vacantia i.e. goods or assets without an owner; and they eventually are taken over by the Crown or government in the UK,” he said. (Text, excluding headline: BusinessDay)