By Babatunde Ayedoju
The issue of paternity, which hitherto received little or no attention from the public, seems to have become an unending discourse, as more cases of alleged paternity fraud continue to spring forth. While paternity scandals have been springing forth continuously in recent time, little did 44 year old Olarewaju Kolawole from Ikire in Osun State know that he would one day find himself in that dilemma.
Mr Kolawole, in 2007, married Oluwatoyin Tella and the union supposedly produced four children, namely Ayomide, 16; Sarah, 12; and two others who are eight and five years old. According to a video that went viral on social media, the result of a DNA test conducted on the four children at a laboratory in Osogbo, Osun State capital, showed that none of them belonged to Mr Kolawole.
The case was revealed when the couple appeared on a popular radio show, Kokoro Alate, anchored by Oriyomi Hamzat on Agidigbo FM, Ibadan. The husband said that he first conducted the test on one of the children, and when he saw that he was not the father of that one, he proceeded to conduct it on the remaining three.
He claimed he came up with the idea of conducting a DNA test on the children after his wife began to make some moves that made him suspect her of promiscuity. His words: “I want Nigerians to come to my rescue because I must not suffer this in vain. I married Toyin in 2007 and gave birth to four children. She gave birth to four children, but none of them belongs to me after findings from a DNA test.”
On the other hand, the wife disagreed with the findings of the DNA test, saying that she was not there when the samples were taken and did not know the exact samples that were submitted. She said, “I don’t accept the result. I don’t accept it because I was not there when they took samples, and I don’t know which sample they took, so I don’t accept it. I can’t accept it because I know how I conceived those children.”
In a situation like this, is the man right to carry out a DNA test on the children? What are the issues that may come up later and how does one address them?
According to Professor Oluwatosin Fashina, an agricultural extension expert, a man has a right to carry out a DNA test on his children if he suspects his wife. Fashina who said that counseling the couple before the test is done can help to avert any negative aftermath added, “It’s either of two things. If the DNA result shows he is the father, then he can begin to trust his wife. If otherwise, that’s the end of the marriage. However, if positive, the wife may feel disappointed in her husband, but this can heal up if the husband begins to show his trust in her.”
Dr Harrison Idowu, a political scientist, noted that it is the culture in Africa that makes it look like a big deal for a man to do DNA test on his children. He said that elsewhere, in Europe and America, a man can request for a DNA test on his children without being accused of lack of trust for his wife.
His words: “In my opinion, it’s not wrong for a man to seek to know the paternity of his children. The story that has just gone viral even further justifies it, and it’s not compulsory for the mother to be aware. After all, with even a hair strand, you can do a DNA test.”
Idowu equally stated that if the result is negative, the woman will feel very hurt, believing that her husband does not trust her well enough. In that case, the man can simply apologise. However, if it turns out the other way, of course, that will be the end of the marriage.
Victor Adeyemo, an ICT consultant, said that considering the degree of godlessness and recklessness in our generation, it is very necessary for a man who no longer trusts his spouse or notices abnormal behaviour in one or two of her kids to ask for a DNA test.
Talking about the impact on the home when the children turn out not to belong to the father, he said, “The impact is that trust is ruined in such marriage or home. If the children are grown up, they won’t forgive whoever is guilty and that can lead to their waywardness.
Adeyemo added that the father could carry out the test without the knowledge of his spouse, with all readiness to take the consequences afterwards and forgive the culprit without using it to act or behave towards the children.
Comrade Tunde Taiwo, a retired civil servant, said, “I believe and agree totally that it is right for a man to request for and conduct a DNA test on his children. This is particularly necessary in circumstances where the fidelity, trust and faithfulness of the wife are seriously in doubt. This will prevent a situation where someone will come and claim the children in the near future.”
While saying that children who carry different genes may start to exhibit bad characters which may bring shame and dishonour to the family in future, he added that such children may not bond with or have sympathy and love for their supposed father, as they are not his blood.
“Most importantly, it will save the father the misfortune of wasting money in training these strange children and also avoid waste of time, emotions and resources,” he added.
Samuel Odeyemi, a clergyman, opined that if a man is suspecting a foul play between him and his wife, he has the right to ask for a DNA test. He said, “No one can really say what the impact of such a decision will be, but obviously it will affect the marriage and family. If the result of the test shows the true picture of what has been going on in such a home, what is next is whether the husband is ready to forgive the wife or not; and whether he’s ready to adopt the children or not, but that in case no one else has claimed ownership of those children.”
Odeyemi who said that such forgiveness is possible only when Christ is fully involved added, “Marital fidelity or faithfulness remains the only solution, and that is also very possible where Christ is on the throne. Even fruitlessness is never enough reason for unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant.”
Another respondent, an agriculturist who pleaded anonymity, opined that if a man has genuine concerns about his children’s paternity, he has the right to request a DNA test. “However, it’s crucial to handle this request with care, taking into account the family’s feelings and privacy. The impact of such a request can vary, ranging from emotional distress and strained relationships to trust issues and potential harm to the children’s self-esteem, while on the positive side it can bring clarity and peace of mind if the test confirms paternity.”
Talking about how to handle the aftermath, he said that it is important to have honest communication within the family, adding that seeking professional counseling or therapy can help address emotional and relationship challenges.
He added, “It’s also important to consider any legal implication, especially if the test results affect custody or inheritance matters. Above all, prioritize the well-being of the children, ensuring they feel loved and supported, regardless of the outcome. Likewise, take time to reflect on the reasons for the request and work towards rebuilding trust and understanding.”
Mrs. Moshood, a language instructor, also said that there is nothing wrong in a man carrying out a DNA test on his children, especially when any of the children has an ailment that cannot be traced to either of the couple’s family or does not resemble anybody in the family.
She added that in a situation where the children do not belong to the husband, “the man first needs to be calm. They may separate. Also, the man travel somewhere else to cool his head. If he does not have problem with fertility, he should marry another wife and start afresh.”
Ojo Olugbemi, a business man, described marriage as an agreement between two parties and said that if either of them, especially the wife, has any issue with the marriage, it is better to file for a divorce than to engage in extramarital affairs, thereby bringing another man’s child under her husband’s roof without the husband’s knowledge.