By Bamidele Kolawole
A Grade ‘A’ Customary Court sitting in Oke-Eda Akure, has adjourned till October 10, this year, for judgment in a suit filed by a church founder, Prophet Theophilus Ayodeji Obayan, to challenge whether his failure to pay dowry to his wife’s family will lead him to forfeit his four children to his estranged wife.
Prophet Obayan had dragged his estranged wife, Prophetess Chibuzor Lilian Obayan, to the Court in Akure, seeking for the reclaim of the paternity of his four children and the dissolution of his 23-year-old marriage.
Dissatisfied with the development, Obayan, the Prophet and founder of Divine Prophetic Solutions Prayers Ministry located at off Arowojobe Street, Ladipo, Lagos, had approached the court to seek justice over the snatching of his children by a member of his church.
The petitioner told the court that he is a Yoruba man while his wife is Ibo from Abia State.
At the conclusion of hearing yesterday, the petitioner prayed the court to dissolve his marriage and grant him the custody of his four children whom his wife had changed their surname to the name of her new husband, Prince Abua Obi.
Obayan narrated, “My wife and I have a ministry in Lagos with large congregation. But at present, she is married to Prince Abua Obi, a junior worker in our church where both of us led as shepherds.
“My lord, Prince Abua Obi is legally married with children. He and his wife are both workers in our ministry.
“The couple used to revere us, such that they call my wife and I, daddy and mummy.
“But to my surprise, my wife started an illicit affair with the man and she is married to him now. She has re-registered the Church in 2019 and even changed my children’s surname to Obi.
“My wife went ahead to change the name of our church we co-founded from Divine Prophetic Solutions Prayers Ministry, to Peace of Jerusalem Revival Ministry in the same location.
“I have ran to God and the court to seek justice on this matter. Let her leave me, but she should not take my children away from me.”
The respondent’s lawyer, T.B. Odudu, told the court that she had called six witnesses who testified in the case and they all corroborated their testimonies that there was no marriage between the petitioner and the respondent.
“In Ibo land, it is their custom that if bride price has not been paid in any relationship, they don’t see the man as husband and father of his children,” she stated.
She stressed that the plaintiff lacked the five elements of customary marriage in Ibo land.
According to her, treaty, concept of parental agreement, handing over of bride and payment of bride price were not in the relationship.
However, the petitioner’s counsel, Bosun Otitoju, told the court that his witnesses had testified in court that there was marriage ceremony between Obayan and his wife.
Otitoju cited the case of Agbeja (1985) 3 NWLR (Pt.11) 19, which held, “in proof of customary marriage, the evidence of the Head of the family is desirable to prove an eyewitness account of the transaction is essential.”
He, therefore, urged the court to grant his client’s claims.
President of the Court, Magistrate Segun Stephen Rotiba, in his ruling, adjourned the matter till October 10, for judgment.