CERTAINLY the last has not been heard on the children custody tussle between Miss Omobolanle Akinruntan, the daughter off Oba (Dr.) F. E. O. Akinruntan JP, Olugbo of Ugboland and her estranged husband, Mr. Ayodeji Fanawopo.
Their two children –Master Ayodeji Olayinka Fanawopo and Miss Oluwademilade Fanawopo, abducted on Thursday, February 2, 2012, by agents of the British government have been retrieved at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, February 6, 2012, by men of Nigeria Police Force who have been keeping vigil at the airport since that Thursday when the children were first abducted on their way to school.
According to ENCOMIUM Weekly source, the children were retrieved from their father –Mr. Ayodeji Fanawopo, who was about to take them back to London.
ENCOMIUM Weekly wrote in its last edition about how some mobile policemen kept vigil at the British Deputy High Commission’s office, Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, where the children were first kept by the court officials, who abducted them and at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja to prevent their being taken abroad.
But the Police Public Relations Officers in Abuja and Lagos, Mr. Sola Amore and Mr. Idowu Jaiyeoba, respectively claimed ignorance of police involvement in the custody saga.
Mr. Jaiyeoba told us to furnish him with the names of the mobile men involved and their squadron unit before he would tell us where they are from and who sent them.
However, in a letter of complaint sent to British High Commission by Chief Afe Babalola law chamber, acting as solicitors to Oba (Dr.) Frederick Akinruntan, the grandfather of the two children and Miss Omobolanle Akinruntan, their mother dated Monday, February 9, 2012, it stated inter alia:
“Fortunately, on the 6th of February, 2012, while our client and her older brother, Prince Femi Akinruntan were seeing off a visiting company director having secured TP visitors permit tag that allowed visitors to see off their travelers through appropriate airport security agencies, they sighted the missing children, Master Olayinka Fanawopo and Miss Oluwademilade Fanawopo in the company of their father at the British Airways lounge of the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport…
“Upon sighting our client, the children ran to their mother while Mr. Fanawopo, in his usual abusive manner began to physically assault her despite the fervent appeals from her brother and other persons present at the lounge…Accordingly, both Prince Femi Akinruntan and Mr. Fanawopo were detained before being transferred to the nearest police station after which they were both released on personal recognition.”
Chief Afe Babalola went further to state that the children were retrieved from their father to restore the maternal rights of their mother and that of the children themselves.
The lawyer also said Miss Omobolanle Akinruntan was “never served with any court process to notify her of the fact that proceedings had been instituted here in Nigeria for the registration of a court order allegedly procured in the United Kingdom by Mr. Fanawopo.”
“It is our considered opinion that the fact that the period of 12 months had expired made it more imperative that our client (Miss Omobolanle Akinruntan) be heard.”
Apart from the fact that Miss Omobolanle Akinruntan, according to her lawyer was not heard in the court before the order was passed, she was also not served the court order before the children were abducted.
The lawyer urged the British High Commission to investigate the legality of the conduct of Mr. Ayodeji Fanawopo as well as the officials of the British Deputy High Commission in the abduction saga.
The lawyer also said that he has applied to the High Court of Lagos State for a vacation or setting aside of the order of the Hon. Justice L.A.M Folami (Mrs.) of Lagos High Court, Ikeja, Division, which ordered the enforcement of London Court order on the ground that it was obtained fraudulently and upon concealment of material facts.
We wrote in our last edition of our magazine that the children’s custody palaver between Miss Omobolanle Modupe Akinruntan and her estranged husband started in 2009 in far away London, where a court order from Romford County Court forbade Miss Omobolanle Modupe Akinruntan from taking her two children away from the jurisdiction of England and Wales pending the determination of the custody of the children between her and her husband. The order was given by His Honour Judge Wulwik on August 6, 2009.
Miss Akinruntan, we gathered, sneaked the children out of London to Nigeria and the estranged husband went back to the court and an order was issued by the court that the children must be returned to the jurisdiction of England and Wales within 14 days of the order.
The court compelled judicial authorities, the British High Commission in Abuja to ensure compliance to this order. The court order specifically stated that Miss Omobolanle Modupe Akinruntan must obey the order or else she would be guilty of contempt of court and may be sent to prison. The order was given by Hon. Justice Mostyn of Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A2LL.
Based on this order and on the provisions of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgements Act Cap 175 of 1958 and Act Cap F35 2004, Hon. Justice L.A.M Folami (Mrs.) of Lagos High Court, Ikeja Division granted the enforcement of the London court order on December 7, 2011.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 14, 2012