The Interpol section of the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos has concluded investigation into a case of forgery involving the wives of late Olayiwola James Akanbi Lambo. Both wives and their children are at loggerhead over who will inherit the properties of late Lambo both in London and Nigeria.
The police in Lagos started investigating the matter when the United Kingdom – based Nigerian cleric, Rev Patricia Kelly-Lambo, wrote a petition alleging that her husband’s other wife simply identified as Esther presented a fake divorce letter in an attempt to strip her and her children of her late husband’s wealth.
According to Patricia, she is the only legitimate wife of her late husband and should be accorded all the benefits as his widow. In the heat of the tussle, Esther was alleged to have presented a copy of a divorce certificate issued by the Nigerian authorities to a UK court alleging that Lambo was no longer married to Patricia. Based on that, Esther was recognized as the only surviving wife of late Lambo.
However police investigation revealed that the said divorce certificate allegedly presented to the UK court by Esther was forged as there was no record of it emanating from any court in Lagos as claimed by her.
On what led to the crisis, Patricia who visited Nigeria recently said that she was living together with her late husband at their London home, No. 16, Hillcrest Road, Bromley, Kent, London, BRI 4SB before he took ill. “It initially started like a normal fever till it became worse and we rushed him on July 17, 2017 to Kings College Hospital Trust, London where he was admitted. Unfortunately, on Friday November 3, 2017, he died.”
Still in shock over Lambo’s sudden exit, Patricia alleged that her husband’s ex-wife, Esther hurriedly went to the hospital to collect his death certificate. “My late husband told me that he was married to Esther between 1962 and 1974 before he divorced her. I was surprised when I learnt that she went with her children to Bromley birth and death office in London posing as the wife. She introduced herself as the only surviving wife of my late husband and used our house address, a place she has never stepped into. They were issued with the Medical Certificate for Cause of Death (MCCOD) and death certificate respectively.
“I decided to set the record straight because to the best of my knowledge, I am his only known legitimate wife. When the hospital realized their mistake, they apologized and refused to release my late husband’s corpse to her. In the process of trying to get the papers back so as to arrange for his burial, Esther and her son dragged me to a UK court claiming that my late husband divorced me as far back as the year 2000. They backed up their claim with a copy of a divorce letter, which my late husband allegedly got from a High Court in Lagos. The High Court of England, Chancery division, hoping that the divorce certificate is real, ruled that the body be released to Esther and her children.”
Wondering if her late husband filed for a divorce without her knowledge, Patricia decided to investigate the source of the letter. “I got married to my late husband on April 17, 1993 at a Marriage Registry in City Hall, Lagos Island. It was years later that I got to know about his ex-wife and her children. I have lived with my husband in London till the day he died. I was the one who personally took him to the hospital and stayed with him till the day he died.
After my marriage in 1993, I stayed back in Nigeria till 2006, when I finally relocated to London. They claim that my husband divorced me in March, 2000 while I was still in Nigeria. If that was true, I should have been served the court summons or divorce paper by either the court or my late husband.
Determined to get to the root of the matter, I contacted my lawyer in Lagos state who wrote to the registrar of Lagos High Court, Igbosere, Lagos. In a letter dated February 28, 2018 , the lawyer sought for verification of a decree absolute dated 8th March 2000 in suit no. HD/227/99, to authenticate Esther’s claim of divorce. But in its response dated April 13, 2018 and signed by the Assistant Chief Registrar, Sejoro Semako A. S, the court acknowledged the application and stated that such an order did not emanate from the court.”
However based on the initial court judgment gotten by Esther and her children, the body of her late husband was released and sent down to Nigeria for burial. ‘‘I wrote a petition to Nigeria Police through my lawyer in Nigeria against the woman and her son, Tunde, over the fraud committed and stop them from continuing with their fraudulent acts in Nigeria. It took the intervention of the family members, friends and others before I decided to allow them bury my husband’s corpse. This was almost a year after my husband died. After his burial, the Nigerian police invited us to their office at Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos State to find a way to settle the matter. Unfortunately that peace move was scuttled by Tunde and the mother, who left the country for the UK without notifying the police and complying with their directives,”
Meanwhile Patricia is crying out for justice and quick resolution of the case in UK court, as she lamented that her stepson Tunde and his mother are fighting to take over her properties in United Kingdom and Nigeria.
“Esther and Tunde have boasted on several occasions that they are going to collect everything from me and send me out to the street of UK. And, as it is now, with the death certificate in their hands, I cannot proceed with the processing of papers of the house in United Kingdom.
‘‘Also, I cannot process anything in United Kingdom without the death certificate as a widow. Anything I apply for in United Kingdom, they will ask me to bring my husband’s death certificate.’’
In a police report signed by Commissioner of Police, Interpol, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, the divorce letter from Nigeria was forged. “In the light of the above, kindly be informed that the purported divorce certificate presented by Mrs. Esther to persuade the court in London to release the death certificate of late James Lambo was forged.” It requested that Mrs. Esther and her accomplices be prosecuted. “We appeal the death certificate be re-issued to Mrs. Patricia Kelly Lambo as the only surviving wife of late Mr. James Olayiwola Akanbi Lambo,” the report stated in part.
According to the Investigating Police Office (IPO), in charge of the case at the FCIID, Fadare Akinola, a Superintendent of Police, they have concluded with their investigation of the matter and what is left now is for the court in UK where the matter originated from to prosecute the offenders.
“We are not the one that confirmed that the divorce certificate was forged. We are not the originator of the document but the court. She got a copy of the document presented through her lawyer in Nigeria and she wrote a petition to that effect. So when they wrote petition that they want the police to investigate the matter. We then wrote a letter to the issuing body and they wrote us back that such document never emanated from them. That simply means that the document is forged.”
Based on the outcome of the investigation, the police in a letter dated December 11, 2018, wrote Interpol Manchester to discard the forged document and prosecute Esther and her accomplices and have the death certificate and letter of administration issued to Patricia.
She is lying
However, all efforts to reach Esther in London proved abortive but when reached on phone, her son Tunde, denied the allegation, claiming that he has at no time issued any threat to anyone.
“I am not aware of any allegation. I know Patricia and I don’t have any information to give to you. I don’t know what kind of story that she has told you that I am threatening her life. She lives close to me in London. So, how can I be threatening her in Nigeria?’’ Also Esther’s family lawyer in Nigeria, Chioma Olusola refuted the allegation against her client, insisting that Patricia is not presenting the full and true picture of the case.