Man, father-in-law battle over child’s custody in Lagos
It is a war of words between a man and his father-in-law over custody of a toddler whose mother died during childbirth in 2015. Who should an infant child be with after the death of his mother? Is it his father or grandparents?
This is the question begging for answers as the battle over who should be in possession of Patrick Kayokunmi Destiny Njoku, between the father, Princewill Njoku and maternal grandfather, Chief Godwin Osochukwu, heads to the court.
Njoku hails from Umuokwaraku, Umudiagba Abajah in Nwangele local council of Imo State, a neighbouring community with his father-in-law, Umuokwara Umucheke Okwe, in Unuimo local council of Imo. Also, while Njoku lives in Abule Ado area of Lagos, his father-in-law is based in Mazamaza area of Lagos.
Njoku told The Guardian that he has on many occasions begged Osochukwu that his son be released to him, using the family way of settling disputes, but all efforts proved to no avail before he approached the courts in both Lagos and Imo states for help. That was after several petitions written to the Lagos State government, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Nigeria Police failed to settle the dispute.
Narrating the genesis of the crisis, he said: “I took my son and sister to my father-in-law after the death of my wife, so that the two families can both share in the joy of having a child after losing a loved one, but rather than seeing my deed as a good gesture and a form of consolation, they pushed my sister who was the caregiver to my son out of the house and took my child to an unknown location. Since then, I have been denied access to my son.
“I did my introduction on May 31, 2015 and my wife gave birth on September 2, 2015 and died the second day after child birth. She was never sick; she never for once complained of headache and she never had complications during pregnancy. So her death was mysterious. More so, he has since the baby was delivered kidnapped my son from the hospital with the intention to use him for money rituals.”
When contacted, Chief Osochukwu, who described his son-in-law as a frustrated person, said: “I am the grandfather of the child. The biological father of the child is not yet determined, and his community and mine have waded into the matter because they are the only people that can resolve it. Njoku went to the police to say I kidnapped his child to be used for money ritual. How can I kidnap my own grandchild?
“All the allegations are bound to fail because they cannot stand the test of time including accusation of me killing my daughter. He is just a busybody writing petitions against me; He didn’t marry my daughter legally. We are from neighbouring community with same culture and he has not married my daughter.
‘’Sometime in 2015, Princewill came to tell me in Lagos that he wanted to marry my daughter and I told him we do not conduct marriage outside our hometown. So, he promised to come to the village for the introduction. On Saturday May 30, 2015, he came to the village for the introduction. Before then, I found out that my daughter was already four months pregnant. Because what he came for was introduction, I decided not to chase him out, and the introduction was done in the absence of my daughter.
“At the day of the introduction, they were talking about traditional marriage, and I told them to hold on until my daughter delivers her baby, because our culture and tradition do not allow traditional marriage to take place while a woman is pregnant, and they accepted.
‘’When my daughter died after delivery, I took her baby from the hospital for a better care and Princewill did not show any commitment. Three months after, he came to demand for the child and I told him that things should be done rightly. So, my wife and I traveled to the village with the baby in December 2015. It was then he lied that we pushed her younger sister, Charity who stayed with us away from the house to abduct the child to sell for ritual.”
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