•Bilking ongoing for 29yrs — Queen Cole reveals
•Family, Probated Trustees seek IGP’s intervention
By Evelyn Usman
Former Council President of the Lagos Stock Exchange and philanthropist, Sir Mobolaji Bank Anthony died on May 26,1991 , leaving behind over $50billion worth of estates scattered all over Nigeria ,the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Isle of Jersey.
In addition to these, were 22 institutions he championed with regular annual and other huge grants.
Regrettably, his family and members of the probated trustees disclosed that some individuals had been conniving with some banks and registrars to siphon huge amount of money from the properties and institutions left behind by the late foremost industrialist.
Spokesperson and Executive Probated Trustee of the Estate of Sir Mobolaji Bank Anthony, Queen Irene Cole, disclosed that bilking of the late Bank Anthony’s estate had been ongoing for 29 years at the expense of the institutional beneficiaries, among who are virtually impaired persons at the Nigerian Society for the Blind.
The septuagenarian who was flanked by immediate family members of the late Bank Anthony and their lawyers , clarified that the matter at hand was not a family dispute but a criminal act she alleged was masterminded by three persons (names withheld ). Two of them are dead, with the remaining one still living, according to her.
Explaining in a wavery and shaky voice, the septuagenarian said: “ In his(late Mobolaji Bank Anthony ) last Will of April 10, 1991, Sir Bank-Anthony nominated Trustees. Only one of them got probated ( at the time) after the transition of some original Trustees.
However, the Will bars a single Trustee from acting solely. At this juncture, the other individuals teamed up to give a facade of being properly in charge. They proceeded to coldly bilk the estate’s large concerns in Nigeria, the UK and the Isles of Jersey for over 29 years, at the expense of all named institutional beneficiaries and worthy causes that were dear to the heart of Sir Bank Anthony.
“It became a free for all as each one appropriated what he or she could reach before the other. Beyond criminal negligence, the strong threads of collusion in this respect are linked to Bankers, Registrars and certain persons in the shadows.
“With the transition of the original executors/ trustees of the will, two of who have died , the group was now left with the third and main kingpin, who went haywire: converting millions of money meant for different beneficiaries; conniving with sundry Registrars over shares held by the Testator and declaring to his larger family that they were left out of the Will – giving them 200million naira to share.
“By a swipe of flawless confidence trickery, he got the entire clan to reecho after him; that they had no say in the will and the sum of 5million each person got from the bulk was a gift from his deep pockets and large heart.
“Using a multi-layered network of strange law enforcement top-notch, footmen, rough-necks and enforcers; they bilked the estate for over three decades! Within this period, they left the beneficiaries out, in the cold with nothing: through concealment, deceit and outright violation of the trust, for personal gains.
‘In all of these, not even one property was renovated. Instead the cherished “Fountain Pen” house where Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony lived and died was handed over to a dubious developer for N5M at Ikoyi and nothing for the Beneficiaries to date”.
Along the line, she said efforts by the probated Trustees spearheaded by her , almost led to their murder by the agents of the gang. She recalled how she and her Personal Assistant were taken at gunpoint and threatened with death, if they did not release some original documents.
She said “ Myself and my Personal Assistant, Mr Amariwu ,were taken to the Lion building division in Lagos Island and later released. Unfortunately , my domestic staff ended up being handcuffed and locked away at Lion Building Police Cells. The intimidation and impunity continued with the domestic staff being ferried to Abuja and held incommunicado under severe dehumanising conditions for one month”
Not done with the murderous desperation to quieten all legitimate inquiries into its nefarious activities and stranglehold over the multibillion-dollar estate, Queen Cole alleged that one of the impostors instigated uniformed men to invade Mr Amariwu’s residence, abducted him and railroaded him in Ikoyi prison on false charges.
“ The dark reason behind the unbridled harassment, death threats and incessant arrests and detention was because I have knowledge and proof of Sir Banks Will: which was a most compassionate request to 20 Nigerian corporate entities, laudable causes and some other beneficiaries. As it were, I exposed an almost three decades filthy secret! Hence, the knells were unleashed to silence me and everyone around me , by all means possible! “.
Queen Cole stated that the atrocities of the group came to limelight after one of the granddaughters of late Bank Anthony, Ms Funmiade Bank-Anthony , raised the alarm on how the entire Bank Anthony’s family was kept in the dark from his 48 properties.
The publication, according to Queen Cole who described the late philanthropist as her Godfather, further revealed the true position of things.
For instance, she said: “It became known that the principal actor in the entire charade was not even a probated trustee and had no locus to act as trustee.
“Suddenly, in the heat of this passion, came a complete turnaround by the gang. They claimed to be sorry and were ready to give N200 million to the descendants of Sir Bank-Anthony to share at N5 million each. They were urged to forget about the corporate move to get more money and properties.
“Today, through the concerted efforts of the probated Trustees/ Executors / Executrixes, under the Lead Trustee; Dr Deinde Aganga-Williams Nee Adio-Moses who was nominated in the Will for over 29 years without informing her that she had been nominated. Justice S.A. Onigbanjo requested that she must be found and today she is the Lead Trustee of this Estate. The leader of the gang and his henchman are now within the arms and grip of the law.”, she informed.
Another challenge confronted by the probated Trustees /Executors according to Queen Irene, was the recovery of the late sage’s bank accounts and registrars . So far, she said four registrars with shares running into several millions of naira and three banks where monies were allegedly withdrawn inappropriately had been identified. One of the old generation banks had eight accounts.
Wondering why banks and registrar’s would allow the alleged culprits to run accounts without being probated Trustees of the Estate accounts, she revealed “ when we served one of the Registrars (names withheld) the necessary document on November 6,2021, we discovered that money had been removed on November 11, 2021. We quickly complained to the police.
“The money was from Sir Bank-Anthony that had been abandoned. Later, they claimed the money was sent back to the companies. Whilst we were in the police station, both the head of compliance said that they don’t know how much money that was sent back because they said they mixed it with other clients’ money.”.
Calls on IGP
She therefore, appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Usman Baba to look into a number of banks or Registrars with any account belonging to late Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony, especially those she claimed had been intentionally refusing with delayed tactics.
Expressing optimism that the IGP’s intervention would provide the necessary relief, Queen Cole said, “I believe this will solve our problem. It is strongly hoped that the deprived institutional beneficiaries and descendants of this famous philanthropist shall mime songs of thanksgiving for a new enlivening reign of fresh air,” she stated.