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Juliana Francis

A worried mother, Oluwabunmi, is pleading with members of the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN), to intervene and stop her estranged husband, Shittu, from taking their eight years old daughter, Farida, overseas without her consent.

The woman said that she heard from the grapevine that Shittu was planning to take their daughter overseas while passing Farida as his new wife’s daughter.

Oluwabunmi said that Shittu and his family deceitfully collected her daughter from her when the girl was just seven years old. She further alleged that her rights were trampled on.

She recalled that Farida was first taken on August 2021, with Shittu taking her to his twin brother’s place, where she stayed for four months.

Oluwabunmi said she and Shittu started dating in 2011 and had their traditional marriage in 2014 after she got pregnant.  She put to bed in 2015.

She newly married couple also had Shittu’s mom living with them. Shittu’s twin had a marital challenge, leading to separation. The twin brother would later remarry.

Shittu and Oluwabunmi’s marriage because troubled after she was accused of telling Shittu’s twin ex-wife that the man had remarried.

Oluwabunmi said that her mother-in-law said she could no longer live under the same roof as Oluwabunmi.  That was how Shittu allegedly pushed her out of their matrimonial home and then married his mistress.

Oluwabunmi said that due to the marital squabble, Shittu locked up her fashion designing shop, stopped her POS business and refused to allow her to take anything out of their matrimonial home.

She said: “I begged everyone to beg my mother-in-law, but she refused. On the 10th of August 2021, my husband came to my mom’s place at Ladi-Lak, where we stay, to say he wanted to take Farida out and buy things for her.

“I went with them. When we got to the road, he asked me to step down because he wanted to quickly check his mom’s friend. He said that I should wait, and that he wouldn’t waste more than five minutes. After waiting for a while, I called him and he said that if I got tired, I should go home.

“After that day, I was never allowed to set eyes on my daughter. No phone calls until December 2021, when my husband brought her fresh stitches in her stomach area. It was clear she just had surgery. He said she had an appendix. I took my daughter that day and told him I wouldn’t release her to him.

“She started staying with me and I enrolled her in school. During the third term holiday, his mom came, which was in July 2022. She said she has forgiven me, and that my husband and I should settle because of our daughter. She said that she missed my daughter and needed to see her.”

Just as the holiday was coming to an end, Oluwabunmi went to collect Farida from Grandma, only to be told the girl had been handed over to Shittu.

“The agreement was that Farida will spend a week’s holiday with Grandma. I didn’t know grandma came to trick me to collect my daughter,” cried Oluwabunmi.

She then went with grandma to Shittu’s place to pick up her daughter, but Shittu refused to release the child, “instead he locked Farida inside. On that day, I knelt begging him that we should settle our  marital issue, but he said no.”

Following interventions, Oluwabunmi in October 2022, went to Shittu’s house, where she was asked to kneel before Shittu. “I apologised while on my knees. He said that he had enrolled Farida in another school.”

Even as people kept trying to ensure a reconciliation between the couple, the situation worsen. Oluwabunmi said that Shittu asked her to get an apartment and that he would pay for it, but she refused, insisting that according to tradition, it was the second wife that should get an apartment outside.

“ In October last year, at his mom’s place, we started arguing because I said I wanted to take my daughter. He beat me in the presence of his mom and tore my clothes,” Oluwabunmi recalled.

She added that during Farida’s birthday this year, Shittu refused to allow her to speak with Farida, to wish her happy birthday. He also did not want her to attend her daughter’s inter-house sports day, but she went anyway.

She stated: “I heard from a reliable source that he was planning to travel out with my daughter. I called and asked him if it was true, and he said yes.

“I asked him to bring my daughter since he was travelling, but he refused, saying that Farida was his daughter and that he could do whatever he wanted.”

Responding to allegations made by his estranged wife, Shittu denied planning to take Farida overseas without the Oluwabunmi’s consent.

He added: “How can I act without her consent? She knew right from the beginning about this plan to take Farida abroad. When I went to get a passport for Farida, she also knew. I used to screenshot everything for her. She was privy to everything. I think someone is manipulating her.”

Shittu asked if it was a bad idea for him to seek a better life for his daughter. He said that it would be selfish of him to just take Farida out of Nigeria without Oluwabunmi’s knowing about it.

He added: “No! I am not that kind of person. When Farida becomes successful, it is her mom that would enjoy the most. I have never denied her access to her daughter. She said she wants to take our daughter far away from me, she said that I would never see her again.

“She said she preferred her daughter to be drinking garri with groundnut than to leave for a country where she would prosper. I felt she was selfish in trying to deny that girl a good life.

“I called her before she took me to the Ministry of Justice. I said dear how are you? She asked me who is your dear. I told her to calm down, no matter what, she’s still the mother of my daughter. I want us to have a close understanding because of our daughter.”

Shittu said that the paramount should be for Farida to live a normal, happy life. He said that if Oluwabunmi could allow them to make peace and become close, Farida will be happier.

He said that after discussing with Oluwabunmi how to forge a healthier relationship between them, the next thing he saw was a letter from the Ministry of Justice.

Shittu said: “Farida has changed more than four schools in more than two years. Psychologically, this thing might be affecting her. We know she is brilliant, but these changes might affect her.

“I asked her if she wanted to punish me, should she use our daughter to punish me? I have explained everything to Mr. Henry, who we met at the Ministry of Justice. Henry said I needed to hand Farida to her mother.

“I said handing over Farida to her mother was not a crime, but I can’t release her to stay in that kind of environment where her mom lives. I have my own house and I am comfortable. I can’t let my daughter stay in a place where they have more than five people in a room.

“I know the law, but we should look for a convenient way to make our daughter have a happy and normal life. Even if we are no longer married, if we have an understanding, it will work for Farida.”

Shittu said he used to send money to Oluwabunmi in spite of their challenges. He said that he also wanted to prepare a passport for Oluwabunmi, so that she could be going to visit their daughter in a foreign country if he was not changed, but Oluwabunmi allegedly refused.

“I want to do a passport for my wife, I thought I could still help her, and if I was occupied, maybe she can go in my stead to visit Farida. I wanted to surprise her. But she started all these problems. I was shocked.”

Incidentally, Shittu’s lawyer has moved the matter to court, while Oluwabunmi has gone to the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) for a government lawyer that will defend her.

 

 

 

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