THE daughter of Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, the Olugbo of Ugbo in Ondo State, Ms. Omobolanle Modupe Akinruntan and her former husband, Mr. Ayodeji Fanawopo are neck deep in a tense battle over the custody of their two children –Ayodeji Olayinka Fanawopo (8) and Oluwademilade Fanawopo (5).
The battle took a dramatic turn on Thursday, February 2, 2012, when the husband, supported by a sheriff from Lagos State judiciary abducted the children along Lekki Expressway on their way to school and took them to the British Deputy High Commissioner’s office at Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos as directed by a London court.
Thereafter, the driver and the househelp who were taking the children to school were said to have put a call to their mother who in turn called her father, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan. We learnt the traditional ruler used his influence to call Abuja from where an order came from the Police High Command to make sure the children were retrieved before they get to the British Deputy High Commissioner’s office. But before the police got to the commission, the children were already inside the premises. According to ENCOMIUM Weekly’s reliable source who witnessed the drama, some mobile policemen were deployed to the High Commission and have been keeping vigil at the place since Thursday, February 2, 2012, to the point that the sheriff, who took the children to the High Commission was sneaked out of the place disguised.
We learnt that the police were not only keeping vigil at the High Commission but also at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, where some of them were detailed to make sure the children were not flown out of the country.
The drama over the custody of these children between their parents did not just start. ENCOMIUM Weekly gathered that it has been on since 2009, when Ms. Modupe Akinruntan was said to have illegally taken them away from their London home despite a court order against such. The children’s father went back to the court and was granted an order to the effect that the two children must be returned to London and the mother charged for contempt of court.
The order of the court which was granted by Honourable Mr. Justice Mostyn sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London read thus:
- The said children, Ayodeji Olayinka Fanawopo (7:2:2004) and Oluwademilade Fanawopo (21:11:2006) be made wards of this Honourable Court.
- The Defendant mother, Omobolanle Akinruntan do return the said children Ayodeji Olayinka Fanawopo (7:2:2004) and Oluwademilade Fanawopo (21:11:2006) to the Jurisdiction of England and Wales within fourteen days of this order.
- The Judicial Authorities, the British High Commission in Abuja and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are respectfully asked to use their best endeavours to ensure compliance with this order.
- A Penal Notice be attached to Paragraph 2 of this order. A copy of this order maybe served on the Judicial Authorities in Abuja, Nigeria and the Nigerian Embassy in London.
The order was issued on May 10, 2010.
The order became effective and enforceable in Nigeria when Honourable Justice L. A. M Folami (Mrs.) of Lagos High Court, Ikeja Judicial Division granted its enforcement on December 7, 2011.
It is this order that was eventually effected on Thursday, February 2, 2012, by a sheriff from Lagos State Judiciary in conjunction with the children’s father.
The British Deputy High Commission Office (Consular Section) issued TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN letter to the effect that the two children were delivered to them by the sheriff. The letter was issued on Thursday, February 2, 2012 and was signed by one Edward McEvoy, who is a First Secretary in the Consular Section of the High Commission.
ENCOMIUM Weekly called Mr. Sola Amore, the Police Public Relations Officer in Abuja. He said he was away in Kano for two days and did not know anything about the posting of mobile police to the British High Commission office in Lagos. He directed us to the Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos, Mr. Joseph Idowu Jaiyeoba, who informed us that he called the head of the mobile police in Lagos who he said denied posting any officer to the place.
He said if we could furnish him with the unit number of the mobile policemen he will be in a position to know who ordered their posting to the place.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 7, 2012