A Magistrate Court in Akure has described the Igbo custom that denies a father access to his children over non-payment of bride price to the wife’s family as barbaric, evil and ungodly..
Magistrate Segun Stephen Rotiba spoke when he gave ruling on the legal tussle between Prophet Theophilus Obayan and his estranged wife, Prophetess Chibuzor Lilian.
It said: “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.”
Prophet Obayan is a Yoruba while his estranged wife hails from Abia State.
The were heads of the Divine Prophetic Solutions Prayers Ministry, Ladipo in Lagos State.
Prophetess Chibuzor left her husband to marry one of his spiritual son, Abua Obi, and changed her children’s surname to Obi.
Obayan filed a divorce suit against his wife on grounds that she changed his children’s surname to her lover’s name.
He also asked the court to dissolve the 23 years old union over allegation of disobedience, misunderstanding, lies, manipulation, abuse, hate and rage.
Prophet Obayan challenged snatching of his four children by a member of his church, and sought return of the paternity of the children as well as grant him custody of the children
In his ruling, Magistrate Rotiba dissolved the marriage on grounds that the parties have lost interest in the union and granted Obayan’s prayers to reclaim his four children.
He noted that from the evidence before it, the Respondent alluded to the fact under cross-examination that since the Petitioner did not pay her bride price, her new husband who paid 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 establishqed 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 persona 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 render 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.”