+ As Multi-million Naira Rent Expires Soon, Which Way for Helen Prest-Ajayi?
The Grief Behind the Glitter… As Multi-million Naira Rent Expires Soon, Which Way for Helen Prest-Ajayi?
In a few days time, it will be one year that Dr. Joseph Ademola Olutosin Ajayi died.
He died on Monday April 27, 2020, at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos Island, at the age of 75.
Ajayi was the founder and Medical Director of First Foundation Medical Centre, Lagos, the nation’s premier maternity hospital, where a large number of today’s elite children were born. He was a renowned cardiologist, healthcare technologist, entrepreneur, administrator, philanthropist and community developer. Also, he had vested interest in many multinational companies.
Ajayi came into national and international prominence in October 1986, when the late publisher of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa was rushed to his hospital after a parcel bomb exploded on him.
Since his death, a lot of water had passed under the bridge. So many unsavoury happenings, that will make Ajayi squirm in regret in his grave, had happened within his family.
Ajayi’s funeral was fraught with unsavoury drama that left many friends, family members and well-wishers grappling with shock. His burial took place after series of court hearings and reconciliatory meetings among the deceased’s first wife, Oluyemisi Ajayi, her five children, and Ajayi’s wife, Helen Prest.
However, these sequential events that had characterised the Ajayi family will pale into insignificance when juxtaposed with Helen Prest’s current dilemma.
To what might come as a shock to many people, Dr. Ajayi, with all the enormous financial wherewithal at his disposal, lived in a rented apartment during his lifetime. Indeed, Ajayi was a very wealthy man, and he ran a thriving practice, and had many luxury and landed properties, scattered around the world. He was also a respected businessman with interests in many lucrative pies such as telecommunications (he once held the franchise of Siemens in Nigeria) and real estate among others.
But, Ajayi lived in a rented apartment in Ikoyi. The rent is reportedly estimated at N30 million per annum. When he was alive, that would have been chicken feed to him. But now that he is no more, the tide has changed, and his widow, Helen Prest is said to be unnerved by the growing concerns that stark reality portends.
Sources disclosed that Helen Prest is greatly disturbed by the battles being waged against her by the Ajayi children. But more disturbing for her is the catalogue of challenges she is facing in raising the funds to renew the rent.
A source close to Helen Prest said the rent issue has been giving her sleepless nights. She is now torn between working harder or moving into a smaller and more affordable apartment. She is also concerned about how to raise her three daughters – Tiffany and Tosan Davies (from her previous marriage to Jimmy Davies), and Tomisin Ajayi, and maintain the “fairy princess” lifestyles that Ajayi treated them to.
Helen Prest, 61, a lawyer and a former beauty queen, was said to have met Ajayi twenty-five years ago, ten years after he had been separated from his first wife, Oluyemisi.
Ajayi and his wife, Oluyemisi, a retired Chief Nursing Officer with the Lagos State Government, were legally married, even though they were estranged as of the time of his death.
It was the tussle over his burial plans and who should be seen as being in charge that kept him in the morgue for ten months.
Upon his demise, Ajayi’s older children refuted the claim that their father died of a kidney-related ailment, and went ahead to report Helen Prest to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police. They alleged that she was responsible for their father’s death. The children requested the police to investigate why Helen Prest was at their father’s office after his death to pick certain documents.
The police reportedly swung into action and invited Helen Prest for questioning. Some of the pertinent issues that the Ajayi children raised, bordered on the legitimacy of Helen Prest as their father’s wife. More worrisome is the fact that Ajayi died intestate.
Helen Prest, a graduate of law from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, also holds an LL.M from the Kings College, London. She got married to Dr. Ajayi after her first marriage to Jimmy Davies, a businessman, collapsed. Theirs was a whirlwind union that stood the test of time. Sadly, Ajayi’s death has now eclipsed the fairytale lifestyle that Helen Prest had been used to, virtually all her life.