Ayodeji Fanawopo, the estranged husband of Ms. Modupe Akinruntan, the daughter of Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, told ENCOMIUM Weekly, what he went through in the hands of his in-laws and policemen in the course of securing the custody of his two children –Ayodeji Olayinka and Oluwademilade Fanawopo on Thursday, February 2, 2012 and Monday, February 6, 2012.
According to him, his experience in those two days clearly showed that in Nigeria, it is the rule of money or power as against the rule of law that operates in other climes.
In an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on phone from his London base, he said he could not understand why more than 50 mobile policemen would pursue him and his children to the British High Commission’s office despite the fact that he was carrying out a court order.
According to him, after securing the custody of his children with the assistance of a Lagos High Court sheriff, two police officers and some court officials, they moved to Bar Beach police station. But sensing that the police at the station were trying to play games with him, he decided to move to the British High Commission’s office on Walter Carrington Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He said he had to rush to the High Commission office to prevent the policemen from blocking him and the children.
At the British High Commission office, he had to introduce himself as a British citizen and what brought him and the children to the High Commission. But not quite few minutes that he got to the High Commission office, he looked outside the gate and saw a crowd of mobile policemen.
He said the DPO at the Bar Beach Police Station later came into the High Commission office, where he told Mr. Edward McEvoy of the Consular section, to hand over himself and the children to his (DPO) custody.
But when the DPO could not convince Mr. McEvoy why he should hand them over to him, he declined to do so, the DPO left in frustration. He said after cross-checking with the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos, Mr. Ade Ipaye, the genuity of his court order, Mr. McEvoy decided to accommodate him and the children at the High Commission office.
He said the five days he spent with his children at the British High Commission office, afforded him the opportunity to bond with them since 2008 when he saw them last.
He said his son, Ayodeji Olayinka told him that his mother told them (the children) that he had died after being drowned.
On Monday, February 6, 2012, his second experience with his in-laws, the police and airport officials which made him to conclude that in Nigeria it is still rule of money or influence rather than rule of law happened.
According to him, he had rebooked his flight from Thursday, February 2, to Monday, February 6, after paying the penalty for the cancellation and rebooking.
He was at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, with his children and Mr. Edward McEvoy from the British High Commission on their way to London. He and the children did the necessary check-in routine and went to the British Airways departure lounge to wait for the announcement of their flight.
Just five minutes to the announcement of their flight, he saw what he had been dreading since his ordeal started on Thursday, February 2, 2012 –his in-laws –Yomi, Femi and his estranged wife, Omobolanle, with some other people approaching them. Amongst the crowd approaching them also were some police officers. Within a twinkle of an eye, there was commotion right there at the British Airways departure lounge between him and his in-laws. Eventually, he was overpowered and the children taken away from him. While all this was going on, the British High Commission official, Mr. Edward McEvoy was watching.
He said in the scuffle that ensued between him and his in-laws he lost his wallet and phone.
He said aside assaulting him, his brothers-in-law also took him to Beesam police station, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos. He followed them with Mr. Edward McEvoy to the police station but without the children. Their mother –Ms. Modupe Akinruntan had disappeared with them leaving her brothers, Yemi and Femi to deal with him.
Mr. Fanawopo may be angry with Nigeria Police Force for doing the biddings of his father-in-law who he believed is behind his ordeal but he was full of praises for officer at Beesam police station, who he suspected must be a lawyer too.
According to him, if not for the DPO at Beesam police station, he would probably be languishing in one police cell now probably at the Lagos State Command, Ikeja. He said the DPO pointed it out to Femi Akinruntan, who wanted him arrested and detained that it would amount to contempt of court to do that going by the court order papers with him (Fanawopo). He said the DPO also advised Femi to return the children to him because that also would amount to contempt of court if they went away with the children.
He said he left the Beesam police station that day in company of Mr. Edward McEvoy back to the British High Commission office, where he slept before going back to London the next day.
When ENCOMIUM Weekly asked him what he was going to do next, he said the British High Commission had written a letter of protest to the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State, Mr. Adeolu Ipaye, who he said has promised to investigate the matter.
He also said he has informed his representative in British Parliament, Mr. Jon Cruddas, who he said has promised to take the matter up in the British Parliament.
He said he will also be going back to Hon. Justice L. A. M Folani’s (Mrs.) court. “Some questions needed to be answered. Justice needs to be done and must be seen to be done. The Akinruntans have violated my human right, deprived me of being a father to my children (parental right), and deliberately caused me pain. They have no respect whatsoever for the law of this country or any other country,” he concluded.
Mr. Ayodeji Fanawopo said he met Ms. Omobolanle Akinruntan at a friend’s wedding sometime in 1999. They got married in 2002. He said the marriage was peaceful and blissful at the initial stage until his wife started behaving funny. He said in September 2007, after returning home from work, he discovered that his wife had left home with their children.
He was later informed by his father-in-law, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, that he would never see those children again because he disobeyed him. He said in 2008, Ms. Modupe Akinruntan brought the children to Nigeria. He came to Nigeria that year (2008) in the bid to reconcile with his children but he nearly lost his life in the process because he was thoroughly beaten by his father in-law’s security men at his depot.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 28, 2012