By Babatunde Ayedoju
Marriage between Sanni Oluwaseyi and Rasheedat Fulani, both middle-aged which has spanned three decades seems to be headed for the rocks as the estranged wife changed the paternity of their only child to that of her current lover.
According to the husband, she had deserted their matrimonial home and later went to take their son, Ayobami, a 15- year- old SSS 1 student from his school and made him to live with her along with her lover.
He testified that after some time, he had gone to Rasheedat’s house to check on his son because he heard that the young boy was gambling and keeping bad friends.
At Rasheedat’s house, he said that he met a young man called Smart who claimed that he was Rasheedat’s husband and Ayobami’s father.
Oluwaseyi said that he knew Smart before then as he had been a regular visitor to his family. He told the court that he had confronted him and the young man pounced on him and beaten him up so much that he almost died. He claimed that not only did he know Smart very well but he once paid for his bail when he was in detention for a crime and his wife, Rasheedat had sought his help.
He said he no longer want the marriage and blamed his estranged wife’s family for his financial misfortune, claiming that he was well to do before he married her. He alleged that one of her brothers had taken her to a native doctor who gave her a charm to use against him. He lamented that since then his finance had dwindled and all efforts to neutralize the charm proved abortive.
Rasheedat had approached an Ondo State Customary Court sitting at Oke-Eda, Akure, seeking for the dissolution of their marriage and accused Oluwaseyi of deserting the family for three years, not paying the school fees of their only child and prayed the court to dissolve the marriage.
In her petition, she told the court that she had to take their son from his father following the unsavory report she got from his school that their son was keeping bad company and his father was not able to take proper care of him.
In his defense, the respondent, Oluwaseyi maintained that he had been responsible for their son’s school fees and only stopped when he suspected foul play from the mother. On the dissolution of the marriage, he reminded the court that they were already living separately, therefore he did not have any problem with the court officially dissolving their marriage.
According to Oluwaseyi, an electrician, trouble started when their boy was about to start secondary School and Rasheedat said that she wanted him to attend a secondary school in her village. Oluwaseyi told the court that he agreed after seeking Ayobami’s opinion and discovered that he supported the idea.
Oluwaseyi said that after confirming from his wife’s brother in the village that the total amount to be paid in the new school was N50,000, he sent the amount. Thereafter, Oluwaseyi said he realized that Rasheedat would always excuse herself to pick phone calls and would also switch off her phone before sleeping.
Explaining further, Oluwaseyi claimed that he was later able to pick a call on his wife’s phone which came from a teacher in Ayobami’s school who told him that the boy’s school fees were not paid. After the first term examination, Oluwaseyi added, Ayobami was driven from the school. Later, the boy was moved to a boarding school before he finally ended up in a public secondary school in Akure.
Rasheedat later left home with the child, her husband stated, and her number was not connecting. Then Oluwaseyi claimed that he got the shocker of his life – Ayobami who had earlier repeated a class did not have any result for the last examination and was defaulting in school fees payment. To crown it all, Ayobami was already gambling and keeping bad company.
Giving her own account, Rasheedat claimed that Oluwaseyi was in the habit of beating her, adding that she opted for Ayobami to have his secondary school education in her village so that the domestic violence she was experiencing would not affect him.
She even presented a photograph before the court to prove her allegation of domestic violence.
She also said, “he complained that I was disgracing him by selling snacks and sit down at home for three months doing nothing. He starved me and the child whenever we fought, and when I hustled to get food he wanted to eat from it. One day, he told me to get out of the house before the end of the month without telling me what I did wrong.
“The child was initially with me but later returned to the father. When I visited the child in school on one of his birthdays, he said that his father had planted someone to monitor me that I am a witch,” she added.
Rasheedat who is yet to have any child in her second marriage claimed people were always blaming her for leaving her only child with her estranged husband who already had three other children from his second marriage. This, she said, prompted her to visit the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs where she was told that she has a right to visit Ayobami but Oluwaseyi disagreed.
Further in her account, she said that though she agreed with officials of the Ministry of Women Affairs that the matter be taken to court, her family advised her against it and she held her peace.
She claimed that she later heard that Ayobami was keeping bad company in school.
At this point, she said that she was able to prevail on the lad to follow her, she said that the officials at the Ministry of Women Affairs told her she ought to have carried them along before taking custody of the child.
While stating that the gap in Ayobami’s academic record was because he repeated a class, Rasheedat added that there was a time the boy fell sick and she had to foot his medical bills alone, including borrowing N30,000, though she told the father about it.
She therefore prayed the court to dissolve their union, prevail on Oluwaseyi to pay the child’s school fees, refund the money that she paid earlier and allow her pick the rest of her belongings in his house.
At a point, the court, led by Mrs. J. O. Wewe, queried why Oluwaseyi easily succumbed when Smart claimed to be the father of Ayobami, with Oluwaseyi not giving a clear response. However, when the court asked Ayobami to identify his father, he affirmed Oluwaseyi to be his father.
The court asked if both husband and wife could have a joint custody of Ayobami. Rasheedat disagreed, claiming that Ayobami would not be well cared for by the stepmother, the court made her know that Oluwaseyi had an equal right to the custody of his son.
Meanwhile, Oluwaseyi requested that Ayobami should spend only weekends with him occasionally and stay with him during vacation. Then at the end of the vacation, he would give Ayobami his school fees.
He however pleaded that he would not be able to refund the money Rasheedat asked for because he was broke but he promised to cater for the feeding, clothing, education and healthcare of Ayobami henceforth.
He added that Rasheedat no longer had any property in his house except a student mattress, because she had taken everything away earlier, adding that Ayobami could testify to that.
The Magistrates warned Ayobami to shun bad company and focus on his education. The court also instructed him to report in the court once in a quarter, to show that his parents were taking care of him and that he was obeying them.
The case was adjourned till October 3, 2023 for judgement.