Families of account owners in the banks that died intestate are suffering in silence across the country.
The Republic investigation revealed that over 500 five hundred such known families exist across the country and conservative estimated put the amount involved at about N150 million spread in all banks in th country.
According to The Republic investigations, banking practice requires beneficiaries of those who died without leaving behind a will to obtain a letter of administration from courts before they can claim such monies.
A senior manager with the Union Bank explained that this practice becomes necessary in order to prevent the money from going into wrong hands.
According to him, for every country there is a standing law on disposal f the property of t he deceased.
According to English law which Nigeria adopted, a letter of administration is inevitable to give legal backing to the administration of such property. This safe guards and prevent a situation where such money could have been disbursed an later some other legal claimers come in thus subjecting the bank to legal battle.
Bankers, the manager said take the conservative attitude to ensure that if such deceased owned some liability to others, such liabilities are disposed of before other payments are made to the benefactors.
First Bank sources said that the issue is purely a leal matter that is best left with lawyers and judges.
The problems with letters of administration in Nigeria is that it takes a long time in coming if it comes at all.
At the Lagos probate registry, officials told The Republic that in the first instance, applications had to be made to the probate registrar for forms asking for letter of administration of the estate of a deceased who died intestate with N1.50.
In the application the applicants are required to submit the death certificates of the deceased, death registration and to sureties who must have substantial amount in their accounts in the banks or in the alternative have a landed property in Lagos.
These conditionalities, officials at the ministry of justice say, are making things a little bit difficult for applicants.
According to them, most Nigerians die without going to the hospital and when they go for letters of administration a the probate registry they are easily put off and so their benefactors‚Äô monies become nobody‚Äôs money in the bank.
The bank‚Äôs official position is that as soon as notices are served to them upon the death of an individual who has accounts with them, such accounts are frozen. No member of the dead‚Äôs family is allowed to operate the account except there is a will to that effect or letters of administration are obtained.
The easiet is a will, but a good number of Nigerians do not prepare wills before they die especially with the high rate of road accidents and armed bandits.
Banking officials said it would be in the interest of their customers to open children‚Äôs fund account a kind of saving for children until they are of age. They argue that since such accounts would be in the children‚Äôs name, even if the man dies, they can freely operate their accounts.
Individuals in their own reaction to banking practice have devised their own little way of beat banking practice.
Republic investigation reveals that a good number of them write as many blank cheques as possible for those they trust, with instruction to withdraw money from banks upon their death.
This investigation confirms why some deaths are not announced until certain formalities are completed. This has kept quite a lot of money out of the banking system.
Some businessmen said they open keep account with banks for purpose of loans. Some of their money they said are kept at home.
It is an open secret that top Nigerians including governors are known to keep quite substantial amount of cash in their homes.
The locked up money in the banks are of three categories.
There are those which lost ownership as a result of the Nigerian civil war which claimed many lives and whose money in the banks nobody went forward to claim.
The others are those of politicians who kept accounts in fake names and when they thrown out of office, took to their heels. Although their official accounts were frozen by the federal government and the Central Bank subsequently withdraw such money from the banking system, their fake accounts were not so treated. The third categories are those who die intestate and those they live behind need the money for survival.