By Bamidele Kolawole
A woman, Chibuzor Lillian Obayan, has stunned a customary court sitting in Akure, the Ondo state capital when she insisted that she have the right to claim the children she has for her husband because he did not pay her dowry.
The woman who hailed from Aba ala in Abia state came armed with a feisty counsel and an avalanche of witnesses to prove her claim why she changed the name of her children.
The mother of four grown children told the court during her testimony that she changed her children’s surname to that of her new lover because the husband was irresponsible.
The husband, Theophilus Ayodeji Obayan had dragged his estranged wife to the Grade ” A” customary court, to reclaim the paternity of his four children and seek the dissolution of their 23-year-old marriage.
Obayan expressed his shock when he learnt that the wife had deliberately changed his children’s surname to her lover’s surname.
The petitioner narrated to the court: “My lord, my marriage from the onset was characterized by crises, abuse, disobedience, misunderstanding, lies, manipulation, hate and rage.
“I married Lilian in the year 2000 and we have four children. I am a Yoruba, while my wife is of the Igbo tribe. I have suffered a lot in the hands of her family because they don’t love me, but I have been enduring with the hope and desire to make the marriage work.
“Lilian packed her belongings out of my house to another man’s house in 2019 and went to change her name, including my children’s surname to the name of the Igbo man she’s engaged to. Obayan told the court that his estranged wife did not allow him have any access to his children since she packed out of his house.
The petitioner, therefore, prayed the court to dissolve the marriage and grant him custody of the four children, asking the court to order her to change their names back to his.
However, in her defence, Lilian who countered the petitioner’s claims, described her husband as grossly inadequate to be the father of her children .
The respondent said that “My lord, life was not easy for me over the years we have been together.
“In fact, Obayan derived pleasure in always molesting and beating me. At times, he would hit me to the extent that I would sustain body fractures.
“Obayan is not a good husband to me nor a good father to his children, as he does not pay their school fees nor care about how they are living.
“He did not pay my dowry. So, I finally found a man to marry. And my new love wants my children to bear his name instead of that of their irresponsible father.
“It is too late for him to force them because our children are old enough to choose for themselves as they are no more kids.
‘My first two girls, Mayomi and Damilola are 22 and 20 years old, while the boys, Ariyo and Aduragbemi are 18 and 16 years old respectively.”
The respondent added that there was no traditional marriage between her and the petitioner as he claimed.
Lilan, therefore, asked the court to dissolve the union, noting that she was through with the petitioner since he did not pay her dowry.
The petitioner, Obayan Deji came prepared too just as the respondent, Lilian, and appeared before the court with witnesses to establish whether or not there was a traditional marriage between them.
The petitioner’s witness, Prophet Christopher Kayode, JP, a retired civil servant confessed before the court that Obayan and his wife, Lilian lived in Lagos where they married and he also went for their children’ naming ceremony.
He further said the petitioner’s family went to the respondent’s family at Aba-Ala on March 15th, 2007 for the traditional marriage with 50 yams, kola nuts and N100,000 dowry which he allegedly said the respondent’s brother collected on behalf of their father.
Meanwhile, the respondent’s witnesses, one of which is Mr Samuel Uwasomba, on the contrary, professed before the court that only the respondent’s grandmother’s burial was observed on March 15th and not a traditional marriage.
While the estranged couple fought to establish their claims, their counsels too jumped into the fray and engaged themselves in a verbal duel as they hurled insults at themselves in the open court.
Barrister Bosun Otitoju who was the plaintiff’s representative, was cross examining the respondent, when her lawyer, TBO Odudu stood up to object a question he asked her client.
Rather than wait for the court to respond, Otitoju had snapped at his colleague to sit down which did not sit well on her.
This led to a total breakdown of order as they both have reins to their tempers, calling themselves unprintable names that embarrassed the court as the magistrate sought solace in his chamber in order to allow them cool off their frayed nerves.
After the court reconvened, Otitoju requested the court to call the respondent’s lawyer to order and make her apologize for her misconduct.
In his ruling, the presiding president, Magistrate Olusegun Rotiba told the lawyer that they both misbehaved in court and admonished them to be of good manners for the sake of justice.
He adjourned the case till September 28, 2023, for continuation, adoption of oral addresses and probably judgment.