Mrs Cordelia Iwegbuna Idowu Okocha was 50 when she died of breast cancer, on August 7, 2004, and was buried in September 2004. However, 4 years after her death, she ‘visited’ her bank and withdrew more than N527,500 from her savings account in a first generation bank (name withheld). The statement of account of the dead woman indicated that she withdrew N500,000 by ‘self ’ on February 19, 2008. It was reported that On February 28, 2008, she made another withdrawal of N27,500 by ‘self’. She made all the withdrawals at the Awolowo Road branch of the bank. She was survived by her only child, Chukwudi Uche Okocha who was 17 at the time of his mother’s death. He said:
“My mother died on August 7, 2004 as a result of breast cancer and my dad died on February 1, 2006. He slept and did not wake up. I am the only child of my parents, I was 17 years old when my mother died. My mum was sick for about eight months, suffering from breast cancer before she gave up. Since my parents died, I’ve been managing, trying to cope through the help of family and friends. There is a particular family that took me under their care and since then I’ve been living with them. And to God be the glory, they have been trying. I got admission into University of Lagos to study Mathematics in 2006. It has not been easy not having one’s parents around.
“My mother spent a lot of money when she was sick due to the nature of the sickness. We all know that it is not easy to manage cancer. But about a month before she died, she told me that she had something in her savings account; that was her salary account. She told me that whatever happened, there was something left in the account. When she died, she was paid her July salary. Before she died, she told me that she had over N200,000 left in her account and when she died her salary was paid into the account. So, there was over N500,000 in the account when she died.”
“But being the only one, I was not able to process the transfer of the money to my account. My dad was unable to process it before he died. Between 2008 and 2009, I tried to process the letter of administration of my mother’s estate through the Lagos probate court and they gave me the certificate to get the money in the account. That was when I applied for the balance and they told me that the balance was about N500. I was shocked because she told me what she had left in the account before she died and I know she did not go to the bank after she told me what she had in the bank. But even if there was no money, the July salary should have been there because it was paid after she had died. And I have a copy of the pay slip for the July salary. When I met Barrister Eluma, I complained to him that there was something wrong with the account.
“When we went to see the then branch manager of the bank, she asked if I was sure that my mother was dead. But she was not ready to disclose anything. So, I felt there was foul play somewhere and I decided to see a lawyer and see what we could do about it. We discovered that two withdrawals were made from my mother’s account in February, 2008; that is four years after she died. Did she come from her grave to withdraw the money from her account? It is a savings account, meaning that she was the only person who could make withdrawals from the account. So, how come withdrawals were made four years after she died? The withdrawals were made by ‘self’ according to the statement of account. It means that somebody, most likely a staff, who knows she was dead or knows something about her withdrew the money.
“What I need now is for them to refund the money and pay some compensation for the inconveniences I have gone through over the years. If I had been able to access the money, it would have been very useful, particularly when I was in school. Again, the value of the money has depreciated in the past 11 years. You can imagine what I could have done if I had gotten the money then. So, they should compensate me.”