Moshood Abiola's family to reconcile 12 years after his death


Twelve years after the death of Chief Moshood Abiola, and the crisis that followed the sharing of his estate, the family has scheduled a reconciliation meeting for today at the late politician's Ikeja residence, in Lagos.

This is coming at a time government seems to be showing interest in getting back to the country Abiola's assets trapped abroad.

Federal Government has resolved to investigate the allegation that some foreign firms are sitting on Abiola's wealth. But the government wants the family to first resolve their internal differences so that it could have enough evidence to probe the alleged corruption.

A source told THISDAY that Abiola's extended family members were unhappy with the way the name of the business mogul and politician was being dragged in the mud over his property and insisted children must come together.

According to the source, Abiola was a rich man while alive and it is unbelievable to say he died bankrupt. They intend to settle the issues at the family meeting slated for 11 am.

The issue of Abiola's last will has been a subject of litigation both at home and abroad, with one of his wives, Gloria, claiming that her four children were not taken care of in the will.

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently invited Gloria and Abiola's eldest son, Alhaji Kola Abiola, to Abuja over the issue.

The aspect of the case that attracted the federal government was the way foreign firms were said to have conspired to sit on wealth belonging to Nigerians.

EFCC's invitation was said to have been prompted by a petition by Gloria, who was said to have been disturbed by insinuations that Abiola died bankrupt because of his involvement in politics in 1993.
Gloria, added the source, had alleged that the will, which she had probated, was forged and that the assets of her late husband were being fraudulently diverted in collaboration with some foreign firms.

The issue of Abiola's will and assets is, ordinarily, a private matter that should be dealt with by the family. But the criminal imputations and disagreements within have drawn government's involvement. THISDAY learns from the invitation that over 165 documents relating to Abiola's interests in banking, oil, and other conglomerates were submitted to the anti-graft agency. On the basis of this, EFCC invited necessary parties for interrogation.

Perhaps, in reaction to newspaper publications about the management of Abiola's assets, one of the administrators of his estate, Edwards Angell Palmers & Dodge, wrote a letter, dated May 30, 2008, to the family to try to clarify issues relating to Abiola's property in the company's custody. They disclosed that Abiola was indebted to some organisations and had gone bankrupt because of his involvement in the 1993 presidential election, which he was poised to win before it was annulled by former military president Ibrahim Babangida. Attempts by Abiola to reclaim the presidential mandate led to his incarceration and subsequent death in prison detention.

Edwards Angell Palmers & Dodge claimed there were no substantial funds belonging to Abiola withheld by international banks as some of the monies had been used by his eldest son, Kola, to clear his father's debts.

“If some huge sum existed offshore, the question that has to be asked is, why was it not used during chief's lifetime to discharge this indebtedness? We believe, as was set out in the 3rd March report, that Chief MKO Abiola, for all his fabled wealth prior to his election campaign, was effectively bankrupted by his efforts. The only way in which he would have been able to restore his fortune would have been to assume the office which was so summarily and brutally denied him,” Edwards Angell Palmers & Dodge stated.

In the letter, the firm expressed dismay at the publications in which Gloria alleged that foreign firms were sitting on her husband's assets and that the 1989 version of Abiola's will that she probated was forged.