Agwubuo Talks About Lesley

You are welcome. I greet you. Please sit down, we must break kola together. He who brings kola brings life.  I am Duru Agwubuo, senior member of the Ndi Ozo ruling council of Umuaka Kingdom.

You say you are here to enquire about Lesley. She is a very foolish woman. She married for love. What is love? Who marries for love? A woman marries a man that can provide a good life for her and her children. She could have had any man she wanted, she could have even married the king’s first son. Instead she chose a weak thoughtless boy from a far away kingdom. His family is rich but they do not have a good pedigree. His father was a trader and his grandfather a mercenary.

Just like she insisted on marrying him she insisted on leaving him after two children. But she didn’t marry another man, she decided to live and raise her children alone in The Big City, Lagos. What kind of woman is that? Only immoral women live alone in the city. She said she was still looking for love. Her age mates married the eligible men and she was still looking for love.

It didn’t go very well for her in The Big City. She struggled to raise those boys. She ignored a lot of opportunities to be available for them and what money she made she spent to give them a good city life away from the village where she grew up.  Her aunts used to tell her to send the children back to the family that owns them and stop wasting her money on them. She didn’t listen. Maybe it paid off for her. She and her sons are very close. They dote on her.

As her children grew Lesley focused more and more on her career and she did pretty well for a woman. She was generous to her father, the big family, and the lineage and she was interested in kingdom affairs but as she became more and more successful she became less and less interested. She forgot her promise. Her promise to tell our stories. She convinced herself it was just – her imagination. After all who was she making promises too? She forgot the messages we sent her.

I am one of the ancestors now. Our descendants live in a different time, they have new ideas about how life should be. They say we are old school and out dated. In the ancient belief of the Igbo of south east Nigeria the worst fate for the dead is to have no one to remember their name. This is why men poured libations and recited the names of their fathers every morning and every night and taught their sons to do the same. But the world has changed.

Lesley has remembered me again and promised I will be remembered for ever more in her book which she insists will be in the Library of Congress. She would make me immortal!

 

 

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Nigerian Case Law on Child Custody

I’ve received a lot of enquiries on custody of children in Nigeria and decided to write an update with some decisions made by the courts.

In Nwosu v. Nwosu (2012) 8 NWLR Pt 1301 – the court of appeal held –

On the right of parents over custody of children of a marriage

The Court held both parties have equal rights in matters of custody of the children. In other words a mother has equal rights with the father over the children. In the instant case the appellant had equal legal interest in the children of the marriage and a right to protect that legal interest.

On Equal Rights of parents over custody of the children of the marriage

In regard to custody or upbringing of a minor a mother shall have the same rights and authority as the law allows the father and the rights and authority of the mother and the father shall be equal and exercisable by either with out the other.

One of the questions that the court of appeal considered was whether or not the appellant (mother) had a right to take the children away from the matrimonial home before a formal order of custody made by a court of competent jurisdiction to determine the issue of custody.

The respondent (father) had asked an Owerri High Court to declare his wife did not have the right to remove the children from their school and relocate then elsewhere without a prior order of the court. The court of first instance sought to compel the mother to return the children till a determination of custody.

The mother appealed the judgement and her appeal was upheld. The court cited the previous Supreme Court ruling in Williams v. Williams (1987) that held both parents have the same right to custody of children pending a custody hearing.

“The law would be an ass indeed if a parent who has inherent legal interest in the children can’t do something to protect he children before the law can take its course” said Ogunwumiju JCA in his lead judgement in Nwosu v. Nwosu.

The court upheld a mother’s right to remove herself and her children from the matrimonial home in the event of  breakdown of the marriage, threat or fear violence and maintaining status quo ante bellum pending matrimonial proceedings.

Counsel for the respondent (father) went on to argue the children of the marriage were of ‘Igbo extraction’ and their father ‘rich and willing to have them around’. The court held that “the reasons given by the learned trial judge in arriving at the conclusion that the appellant (mother) had no legal right to take the children from the matrimonial home were unconstitutional”

“I have no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that these declarations of the rights of the parents in relation to these children were based on a wrong premise which is that the rights of a very rich father are superior to the rights of the less affluent mother who is from a different tribe. There is discrimination on the basis of tribe, sex and financial means.” – Ogunwumiju JCA

In Tabansi v. Tabansi (2009) 12 NWLR Pt 1155 the lead judgement of the Court of Appeal delivered by Alagao JCA held that “Except the conduct of the wife is morally reprehensible it is better in an estranged marriage for the child of the marriage, more so if that child is a girl of tender age to be left in the care and custody of the wife.”