By Evelyn USMAN
Controversy has begun to trail the death of the Chief Executive Officer of Hasstrup Line, and the now rested Space World Airline, Captain Israel Ademola Hasstrup, 79, who died in the United Kingdom last year under what the bereaved family described as ‘questionable manner.’
Currently, some members of the bereaved family are at daggers- drawn with the deceased’s estranged widow, Ngozi Okorie, whom they alleged have answers to the demise of their breadwinner.
This followed allegation by the late man’s family that the 35-year-old widow attempted to smuggle the corpse of her late husband into the country for burial without their consent. The family claimed they were in the dark over the whole arrangement. Further more, the family alleged that the widow abducted their son when he travelled to the United Kingdom for treatment and deprived members of his family from seeing him for three years until his demise.
The situation would have turned bloody two weeks ago at the interment site in Ilesha, Osun State, if not for the timely intervention of agile policemen who were quickly drafted to the scene. This followed the alleged invasion of the venue by armed thugs hired to apparently wade off any intrusion by members of the bereaved family.
Genesis: Tracing the genesis of the crisis, the eldest son to the deceased, John Hasstrup, 49, told Crime Alert that trouble started between members of the family and the widow following the deceased’s decision to marry the former who was 20 years, after the death of his Ghanaian wife. Then, the deceased whose decision was reportedly kicked against by his family members, was 64 years old.
The late Ademola Hasstrup, according to the son, later divorced the new wife fifteen years after their marriage. He said the story took a different dimension when, after the demise of the man in far away United Kingdom under inexplicable circumstances last year, the ex-wife took control of the burial ceremony even while members of his family were on the verge of exhuming the body for proper investigation to ascertain the cause of his death.
Narrating the family’s ordeal, the eldest son said “ We have had a very horrible time within the family. It has been a trauma that is almost indescribable following the magnitude of the pain it has caused us . We are at a point where the law enforcement agency has stepped in to address this saga that can be described as ‘Hollywood movie.’
“It began when my late father suffered a stroke as a result of the stress he had been going through since 2001 – 2009. It was due to the stress of being married to a young girl who was giving him headache. The stress in him even led to the collapse of his airline called Space Airline. After the stroke, she snatched the two children she had for my father on the pretext that she was going for a party. The said marriage between him and Ngozi Okorie was validly dissolved.
Sometime in May 2009, he suffered another stroke at his residence in Rivers State and was flown to UK where he was treated for almost a month . When he was discharged, the doctor informed that our father had suffered a lot of damages and that little or no changes could be done. He was discharged into the care of Mrs Elizabeth Ngero, nee Hasstrup, one of his grown up children who is married and based in Wiltshire, UK. He was taken to the family residence at 15, Langthorn road, Leytonstone, London.
Alleged abduction: “We later arranged to bring him back to Nigeria but that did not materialise because his ex-wife who got wind of my father’s stay in London, came to the house, capitalised on his state of mind and moved him to her residence at 157, Earlham Grove, a property owned by our father which she had taken over before she was divorced.
When we got wind of this, we went to the house demanding that we wanted our father back. But she called in the police informing them there were some people at her door threatening her and her husband. The police immediately arrived and asked us to leave the vicinity or we would be arrested. They advised us to go to court to prove that my father had divorced her..
Several attempts made by the children to see our father who was under her custody proved abortive because we were prevented from seeing him by Miss Okorie through the use of London Police. She abducted her divorced husband in London for three good years without allowing any member of the family, particularly the children to have access to him, until he was eventually murdered.
As if that was not enough, attempt by one of my younger brothers to expose our father’s abduction led to him being set up by hiding ammunition and bullet proof jackets in the family’s house at Port Harcourt where he resides. Police detectives were instigated to conduct a search at the premises and he was arrested, charged to court and granted bail but on stringent conditions which could not be met , thus he was kept behind bars for almost one year.
Secret burial: “In order to perfect the shady deal, my father was secretly brought into the country and buried on September 28, 2013 in Ilesha, Osun State, without the knowledge of the deceased’s family, in order to avoid carrying out autopsy on the corpse as demanded , to ascertain the actual cause of his death. On that very day, I was in court in London to demand for the release of the corpse for subsequent burial.
His body was hidden from members of his family from October 8, 2012, till September 26, 2013 when it was brought home on the order of the London Court . The family members, his children inclusive were deceived about the actual date of arrival of the corpse. Consequently, the funeral ceremony was carried out amidst tight security with hired militants who prevented family members from moving near the corpse as desired at will.
Startling discovery: “During the pendency of the abduction, the ex-wife, in collaboration with others, criminally forged the deceased signature and used same to forge some documents for the withdrawal of millions of Naira and Pound sterling from various bank accounts both in Nigeria and the United kingdom. We also discovered that a Power Of Attorney was purportedly signed by our late father before he was murdered, taking advantage of his dementia with its attendant unstable mind and memory loss.
This, further, enhanced her criminal and illegal control of the deceased’s estate, even when he has six other grown up children before his marriage to Miss Okorie. We also discovered that she connived with others in the sale of one of our father’s landed property in Port Harcourt for N450 million.
She has plundered our father’s estate by realising over N1.5 billion proceeds from the sale of his Eastern Bulkcement Company Limited , another N150 million from the sale of his water front property at Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt and several other illegal withdrawals from his accounts,” John Hasstrup alleged.
“We are therefore calling on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar to investigate the matter with a view to ensuring that justice was done, by ascertaining the cause of his father’s death,”he stated.
Estranged wife reacts: When Crime Alert contacted the woman at the centre of controversy on phone Monday, she simply asked to be left alone to mourn her husband, adding that the issue was a family matter which she would not want to be in the public domain. However, after much pressure, she referred Crime Alert to her statement at the Force Criminal Investigations Department, INTERPOL section in response to the petition filed against her.
Her statement: In the statement which was discreetly obtained by Crime Alert, she described the allegations against her as ‘false, malicious and baseless’ . Although she admitted in the statement to have been divorced with the deceased, she however, stated that she was never served any court papers in England then.
According to the statement by the mother of two: “Somehow, he still got a decree nisi granted in his favour on July 16, 2007 . The decree nisi was to become absolute in January 2008 except we reconciled, or the validity of the decree nisi was challenged. He also wrote a letter to my father to say he was no longer interested in marrying me.
But he did not demand return of dowry nor did he waive its return as our Mbieri custom demanded. I also initiated divorce proceedings against him in England where I have been living on a permanent basis since 2007. Because my husband’s decree nisi could not become absolute unless by law, arrangements were made for the welfare and maintenance of myself and our two teenage children, he had to go back to the same court to ask for Ancillary Reliefs and Maintenance Orders.