Help! My wife was betrothed at 3 years to an elderly man

My name is Ikechukwu Nwachukwu. I am a Nigerian citizen. I was born in Mbaise, Imo State in the Eastern part of Nigeria. I am married to Morolashayo Nwachukwu. She is also a Nigerian citizen from Ijebu in Ogun State. She was born in Lagos Nigeria. She was born into a devout Muslim family while I was born into a Christian family. We have two sons, whose names we would not mention for their own protection.

I have a Diploma in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality from the London School of Law in the United Kingdom. My wife has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Corporations Mgt from the National Open University in Lagos, Nigeria. I met my wife in (2002). It was a relationship that caught both of us by surprise because of our vastly different backgrounds. I am a Christian and when I met my wife, she was a devout Muslim. She wore the hijab and adhered religiously to most of the tenets of Islam. She fasted regularly. Her father Alhaji Ayomide Talib Sufianu had gone to Mecca a few times and bore the prefix Alhaji before his name to signify that he had performed the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Despite our differences, we fell in love and began to date. However, a few months after we began to date and when it had become apparent to both of us that we were in love, my spouse dropped the bombshell. She informed me that her father had betrothed her at the age of 3 years (in 1987) to a businessman named Alhaji Afeez Adenuga from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State who is about 75 years now. He lived in Lagos and had several businesses and several residential and commercial properties. He already had three wives and my spouse was going to be his fourth. She informed me that Alhaji Afeez has been responsible for her schooling including school materials since she was of nursery school age and he was responsible for her tuition and expenses for most of her university program. Alhaji Afeez was also responsible for the tuition and related expenses of two of my spouse’s siblings as per the agreement he had with her father and as consideration for the betrothal. We were both naive at the time and so when my spouse vouched that she did not have any intentions of honouring her father’s plans, I believed her and we both assumed that there would be no consequences. I even bragged that in the worst case scenario, I would gradually repay Alhaji Afeez for all his expenses. My understanding was that my spouse would not be expected to move in with Alhaji Afeez until after she finished her degree program. We kept our relationship secret although sometime in 2008 her father confronted her with an allegation that there was a rumour going around that she was dating an omo-Ibo (an Igbo child and it was also apparent that my spouse had changed because she stopped wearing the hijab and started attending church with me and she bought a Bible and essentially became a practicing Christian) She promptly denied but not after the father warned her that there were going to be dire consequences if the rumour was true for both herself and me. The father actually stated that if it was true, the omo-Ibo will be killed and dumped in the sea by Alhaji Afeez Adenuga. He warned my spouse not to bring shame and calamity to her family. Again, we discounted the threats and did not view it with the seriousness it deserved.

In 2009 I decided to travel to England for further studies. It was bittersweet because it was an opportunity to improve my lot and prepare me for a sound future for me and my spouse but I knew that the separation would cause problems for our relationship especially because of the arrangement her father had made with Alhaji Afeez. Once in the United Kingdom I plunged myself into my studies but called and communicated with my spouse several times daily. She enjoyed some peace for a while because the rumour that she was involved with an Omo-Ibo died down. I missed her terribly and we began to scheme for her to visit the United Kingdom as soon as she was done with school and hopefully will not have to return. An opportunity however presented itself earlier than we had planned. She was able to get a United Kingdom visa in 2011. We embraced the opportunity and she visited me in October 2011. Before she travelled to England, we decided to have a ceremony to show our commitment to each other. I got my family involved and they met with some of her relatives and had a traditional ceremony. I came into Nigeria in December 2010 and we had the little ceremony in January 2011 after which I returned to England. My spouse came to the UK in October 2011 and returned to Nigeria after two months to complete her final year of university. Unfortunately for us, she noticed that she was pregnant in January 2012. She hid it as much as possible but when it became obvious, she confided in her mother. Eventually, her father was told. He was livid and physically attacked her. She was beaten into a stupor and almost lost the pregnancy. She spent five days in the hospital to heal and also to monitor her pregnancy. The battle lines were drawn with her father. The father eventually informed Alhaji Afeez. He was disappointed at my spouse’s father and also angry. He asked for my name and all my information from her and was disappointed to hear that I was in England. He sent the Police to my parents’ home in Lagos and my father was arrested and detained for a week before he was released. After much pleading from my spouse’s father and other relatives, Alhaji Afeez relented and agreed to go ahead with the betrothal arrangements. He also did not want the shame associated with the matter‘. My spouse suffered so much emotional abuse from her father and Alhaji Afeez that she almost had a mental breakdown. We communicated constantly but could not come up with a solution. We contemplated getting another visa to the United Kingdom but that did not work. In frustration, she decided to surrender to her father’s wishes. It was a trying time for us. I could not bear the thought of her being with that man and I decided to shut her out.

I finished my Diploma in 2013 and met a Portuguese lady. We eventually married but it did not work out. I did not want to be with anybody else so I returned to Nigeria and reconnected with Morolashayo. She was elated that I was back. That same year she became pregnant. Alhaji continued to harass my family and arrested my father again and he was detained for about 5 days. My spouse’s father became increasingly physically abusive to her mother and her siblings. We were getting constant reports from her siblings. The whole drama became too much to bear and she went into premature labour and eventually had our second son in 2016. Complications developed and our son had to undergo procedures to correct certain birth defects. It was a gruelling time for us. I was dabbling into real estate but was unsettled. We began to look for options to relocate to where we wouldn’t be easily found. As we went about trying to raise the money for our relocation, Alhaji Afeez and my spouse’s father eventually found out where we were staying and brought policemen to arrest me. They claimed that I abducted my spouse. My house was ransacked and in the process they saw pictures that I took in London at an event that featured Nnamdi Kanu as a guest speaker for the Orlu association. Nnamdi Kanu is the leader of a group called IPOB that seeks to create a separate country called Biafra in the Eastern part of Nigeria. I attended the event not because of Mr. Kanu but because a friend from Orlu invited me. However, he was there and he took pictures with almost everybody in the hall. Mr. Kanu I understand is a fugitive from justice and wanted by the Nigerian government. However, he is a British citizen and resides there. I am not a member of IPOB nor am I interested in their activities. I was immediately arrested, my phone confiscated and detained for almost three weeks before I was able to be released after a significant bribe had been paid by my family. I was informed that more investigations would be done to confirm my denial and that I would be charged with Treason if their investigation showed that I was a member of IPOB.

I went to Area E Command of the Nigeria Police Force Lagos to report the matter, but I was told by the officer on duty whose first name I can only remember as Emeka and he told me that I was fighting a lost battle, because I didn’t have what it takes to fight the likes of Alhaji Afeez Adenuga, due to his level of affluence. He further said that if I knew what was good for my family and I, that I should either surrender my wife Morolashayo to Alhaji Adenuga or pay him back the millions of naira he claimed to have spent on my wife’s family.

The Police are on Alhaji Adenuga’s pay roll and with his level of influence and connections in Nigeria as a whole, my entire family doesn’t have the resources to fight him. It is also a known fact that the rich and mighty in Nigeria, use the police to intimidate and oppress the poor masses. So having being let down by the Police who are supposed to protect lives and properties of the Nigerian citizens, I knew I was just on my own and had to make plans to put my family to safety. I am very aware of the level of corruption in our entire Police force and wouldn’t expect they would do much to protect a poor innocent man like me, against the likes of the rich and extremely powerful Alhaji Afeez Adenuga.

We remained under this cloud until we were able to raise money for our relocation out of Lagos to a safer place where we are praying that they won’t be able to find us.

 

 

 

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