A former beauty queen, Helen Prest-Ajayi, says there is no need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband and Managing Director of First Foundation Medical Centre, Lagos, Dr Tosin Ajayi.
Helen told PUNCH Metro her position through her lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), on Saturday.
Five children of the deceased had through their lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), written to the Chief Justice of Lagos State demanding a coroner’s inquest into the circumstances surrounding their father’s death.
A family friend, who spoke on behalf of the children, had told PUNCH Metro that Helen and Tosin were never legally married, because his marriage to his first wife, Oluyemisi, which produced the five children, was never dissolved.
The family friend further alleged that four weeks to the time of Tosin’s death, Helen never informed the children of his condition and even his death, adding that they only got to know of his demise through a third party and she also allegedly prevented them from viewing his corpse in the mortuary.
Upon his death, Helen was said to have gone to Tosin’s office, where she reportedly made away with some documents, fuelling further suspicion.
Her lawyer, however, told PUNCH Metro that the allegations against his client were baseless.
“This whole thing is not good for the memory of the deceased. A coroner’s inquest should not be abused. It should not be a theatre for infighting in the family. There are genuine cases that should go for coroner’s inquest, but if they are looking for public sympathy and are grandstanding, they should remember that the soul of the departed deserves rest and respect,” Owonikoko said.
Narrating the circumstances surrounding Tosin’s death, Owonikoko said sometime in March, he had high blood pressure and his condition worsened at home.
The senior advocate said Tosin was taken to a hospital in Ikoyi, where he was diagnosed with a heart condition, and later suffered kidney failure.
Owonikoko said the deceased was taken to the St Nicholas Hospital, then First Cardiologists on Victoria Island and back to St Nicholas Hospital, where he eventually died.
He stated, “A cardiologist was invited to the house three days after Dr Ajayi took ill and after running some tests, he concluded that he must be taken to a hospital. He was taken to a hospital in Ikoyi that Sunday and by the next morning, his condition got worse and Mrs Ajayi (Helen) started calling his associates and friends. About three or four friends responded and they suggested that he be taken to a hospital that could attend to him properly.
“On Monday, he was admitted to the St Nicholas Hospital. That was on March 9. On getting there, they discovered that he needed a cardiologist. He was then referred to First Cardiologists, Victoria Island. He was on treatment for three days and when he stabilised, he was returned to St Nicholas.
“He was there undergoing treatment, which included dialysis for kidney failure. He was there until April 26 by which time we were hoping he would be discharged and taken home. But that day, he passed away.”
When asked if Helen and the deceased were married, Owonikoko told PUNCH Metro that their relationship spanned more than 25 years and produced a daughter.
He stated, “She (Helen) was made to understand that Dr Ajayi had divorced his first wife, but this is not the time to be discussing such. Things like this will be addressed in the fullness of time
“They lived together for 25 years and no one, including the children, challenged their relationship all through when the man was alive. I think they should not let the old man’s memory be soiled.”
When asked why Helen never informed Tosin’s five children of their father’s illness, Owonikoko said the deceased had categorically instructed her that his condition be kept a secret, adding that he did not want anyone coming to visit him during the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On why his client made away with some documents from Tosin’s office shortly after his demise, the lawyer said she needed vital information such as his date of birth and other bio-data, which would be included in his death certificate.
“One of the controversies was his age. So, she needed to consult documents. The documents she got revealed that he was actually 75 and not 68 as she had thought,” the senior advocate said.
When asked why Helen prevented the children from seeing their father’s corpse in the mortuary, Owonikoko said his client was also hospitalised a day after Tosin passed away and immediately after she was discharged, she reached out to one of the children of the deceased, Mayowa.
He further claimed that Helen informed the children of their father’s death the day after he passed away.
However, a family friend told PUNCH Metro that most of Helen’s claims were untrue, adding that they learnt of Tosin’s death through a third party.
The family friend said Helen pointedly told the children that she would not let them see their father’s death certificate and made it clear that she would not let them play their rightful role during his funeral.