During 2014 National Conference divorce rate in the country was one of the many serious issues brought to light. Attention at the time was mainly on the northern city of Kano where divorce rate is the highest however, from what I notice in the south customary courts, we are catching up fast following similar pattern.
Take for example the case of Mr Alaba Aigbe, a 65 year old who recently divorced his wife at Agodi customary court on the grounds that she was an adulterer and a witch.
Reading through the press release, the couple had seven children. Adultery issue came about when Mr Aigbe was away for a year to work in a different town. Mrs Aigbe had an affair with the husband’s typist.
Fair enough if the union had run its course due to breakdown in trust and mutual respect.
Here is the pitiful bits:
“In his judgment, Chief Mukaila Balogun, the president of the court, dissolved the marriage and ordered the complainant to pay N17,000 to the defendant for her to pack her load.”
After 38 years of marriage, the couple likely to have built their wealth (house, and other assets) together, the only thing the wife got out was ₦17k to move her belongings?
“Balogun further directed that the defendant should take custody of the seventh child while the husband should pay her N5000 monthly allowance or the upkeep of the child.”
With the little information presented, it seems their seventh child is the baby of the family and perhaps in secondary school. How on earth did Chief Balogun arrive on ₦5k monthly upkeep in a city like Ibadan?
I bet Chief Balogun has a wealth of experience in this matter. However, I think this is grossly unfair that after 38 years of building a life together, Mrs Aigbe was made to leave with nothing from the life she helped build.
The second example was that of a civil servant in Lagos who wanted out of the marriage because, in his own words, “… wife wants to kill me with children; she is bearing them like rats.”
The couple has six children during 9 years of marriage, he did not trust his wife would get family planning sorted so he wants a divorce.
Is that even a plausible reason to seek for a divorce?
Glory did not appear in court two days ago so case postponed to two weeks’ time.
Given that the six children are all under nine years old, the wife likely to be awarded custody of them all. Who is moving out of the family house? If I were to speculate based on the way things work at home, Glory likely to end up renting a house or move back to her parents’ while the husband stays in the family home.
I hope the court’s president turns down Mr Ayinde’s request. And if the court must grant his wishes, he should be the one to move out of the house and not Glory.
How about if customary courts pay a bit more attention to the children of the divorced couples, then make decisions with care of the kids as priority.
This kind of judgement is a wishful thinking, but fair to me.
On the surface in Nigeria we tend to focus on the north alone as the place that needs serious reforms in terms of children wandering about with no real parental support – this is true, no doubt. However with the frequent ease of granting divorce in the south without setting out terms that include adequate provision for the children, I can’t stop thinking that our customary courts are mirror image of what has been perfected in the north – wife left alone to cater for children when men stay in the family house and sought for a new mate. Another cycle begins.
According to Nigeria HealthWatch, in Urban Nigeria amongst educated ones such as Ayinde in the south we still have average birth rate of 4.7 per woman – national average is 5.67 – All of these numbers are too high in this age. We are a living testimony to the fact that uncontrolled population brings more misery than joy.
Easy access to family planning and education work.
This to me is one of the many reasons we need Gender Bill to be passed into the law so children of the divorced don’t automatically becomes the load women alone have to bear – good for the family and society in the long run.