An Akure Magistrate Court has described the traditions and customs of the Igbo ethnic group that denies a father the right to his children because of non-payment of bride price as ungodly and wicked.
According to Magistrate Segun Stephen Rotiba, “The custom that tends to punish one person when two consenting adults are involved in the act is nothing but the highest element of insensitivity and servitude.”
The Magistrate condemned the Igbo custom that denies a father access and rights to his children over non-payment of bride price to the wife’s family.
While delivering the judgement in the case of one Prophet, Theophilus Obayan and his estranged wife, Prophetess Chibuzor Lilian, the Magistrate noted that the custom was an unfair punishment to the man.
Naija News understands that Prophet Obayan is of Yoruba origin, and his estranged wife hails from Abia State. Both of them were heads of the Divine Prophetic Solutions Prayers Ministry, Ladipo, in Lagos State, until Prophetess Chibuzor left her husband to marry one of his spiritual sons, Abua Obi, and changed their children’s surname to Obi.
However, Obayan filed a divorce suit against his wife on the grounds that she changed his children’s surname to her new husband’s name. He therefore requested the court to dissolve the 23-year-old union, return the paternity of his children as well and grant him custody of the children.
In his ruling, Magistrate Rotiba dissolved the marriage on the grounds that the parties had lost interest in the union and granted Obayan’s prayers to reclaim his four children.
He noted that from the evidence before the court, the Respondent alluded to the fact under cross-examination that since the Petitioner did not pay her bride price, her new husband, who paid the same, has the right to have them bear his name in accordance with Igbo custom.
According to him: “In the same breathe, I find the Igbo custom exuded by the respondent and her witnesses that the children of the union can bear Mr Abua Obi as their surname, atavistic, barbaric, evil, ungodly, irrational, unsensational, crass, gross, crude, unwary, provocative, ungodly, discriminatory and insensible.
“The custom that tends to punish one person when two consenting adults are involved in the act is nothing but the highest element of insensitivity and servitude.
“I condemn this custom in the strongest terms. While the matter was on, a publication was made on February 2, 2023, in Vanguard newspapers, changing the surname of the first two children of the parties to Abua Obi.
“Aside the fact that complicit to change the surname of the first two children has been established against the Respondent, it also amounts to subjudice as no action is expected to be taken on the subject matter by whoever when the matter is pending before the Court.
“This is a complete affront to the Court. I say no more. In conclusion, the Court hereby dissolves the union between the parties, having broken down irretrievably.
“The Court, hereby declares personal non grata, the custom of the Respondent awarding paternal personality to a man who is not the biological father of the children.
“The Court hereby invalidates and renders null and void the publication changing the surname of the 1st and 2nd children from Obayan to Abua Obi.
“The Court also invalidates any other publication or whatsoever changing the surname of the Children from Obayan to Abua Obi during the pendency of this case.”