An Igbosere Magistrate’s Court in Lagos has granted custody rights to Eniola, son of multi-billionaire businessman, Mike Adenuga, over his 16-month old daughter.
But his girlfriend with whom he had the child, Maggie Ogun, a pharmacist, has sought the court’s leave to appeal the order.
Chief Magistrate O. A. Ogunbowale dismissed Ogun’s objection that Adenuga cannot take adequate care of the child.
“Consequently, the applicant (Adenuga) is hereby granted an overnight access to the subject (child) every fortnight from 8 am on Saturday to 12 noon on Sunday,” she ruled. The order, she said, took effect from March 16 and would subsist until the case is determined.
But, Ogun, through her lawyer, Mrs Marian Jones of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), has applied to the magistrate for leave to appeal the ruling.
She is also praying for an order suspending the ruling’s execution, as well as an order praying for a stay of proceedings pending the appeal’s determination.
The magistrate’s absence stalled the application’s hearing on Wednesday. Adenuga also applied to the court to change his counsel from the firm of Adesokan & Adesokan to Akintunde Williams & Co.
In his supporting affidavit in support of his motion for custody, the applicant, who works at Conoil Producing Limited, said he started “an amorous affair” with Ogun in October 2013.
He said she informed him in 2014 that she was pregnant with his child, following which he took full responsibility for their welfare.
Adenuga said he paid for her ante natal care at Reddington Hospital, gave her N100,000 monthly and took her to London where she was delivered of a baby girl on October 23, 2014.
He said he paid the bills worth 22,000 pounds, purchased a first class Lagos-London return ticket for her, and accommodated Ogun and her mother in his Cadogan Gardens, London home.
The applicant said Ogun returned to Lagos last January, three months after her delivery, and denied him access to the child.
“I was denied access by the respondent to see my daughter on the ground that I was not interested in marrying her. I sought her understanding in this regard and reminded her of the fact that we had both agreed to end the relationship as it was heading to nowhere,” he said.
Adenuga said Ogun’s mother insisted that he would only see the child on the condition that he married Ogun. Thus, he was not allowed to see his child between last March and October.
According to him, on one occasion that he was allowed access to the house, he observed that Ogun left his daughter in the care of a security man who doubled as houseboy/nanny and her grandmother, a septuagenarian.
“I was shocked at the unhealthy, unhygienic and unsafe environment in which my daughter was being brought up,” he said, adding that he sends N200,000 to Ogun monthly for their upkeep.
Adenuga said he enrolled his daughter at a “world-class” crèche where he paid N600,000 per term. He said he was only able to see his daughter when he organised a birthday party for her, and when he took her and Ogun to Dubai on holiday.
“On getting back to Nigeria, the respondent reverted to denying me custody and access to my daughter,” he told the court.
On why he wants custody of the child, Adenuga said: “The respondent is unwilling to create time needed to care for my daughter physically, emotionally and mentally and I reasonably believe that my daughter currently lacks motherly attention.”
But Ogun, in her counter-claim, said she never denied Adenuga access to his child. She said from last May to October, she took her daughter to the applicant’s mother’s residence in Victoria Island every weekend.
She said she also took the daughter to the applicant’s father’s house on Banana Island at least thrice a week and sometimes slept over.
According to Ogun, problem arose when Adenuga’s mother demanded that she and the daughter spend two weeks monthly at her residence. Ogun said her family refused because she was not married to Adenuga.
According to her, she was trying to resolve the issue amicably when Adenuga, on October 13 last year, came to her home in company of a policeman demanding that his daughter be produced, and in the process assaulted her mother and damaged her phone when she tried to record the scene.
She denied keeping her daughter in the care of a security man, saying: “During my working hours and prior to when my daughter started attending crèche, she is left in the care of my grandmother and my nanny.”
Ogun also denied that her daughter is being brought up in an unhygienic and unsafe environment. She claimed she pays her daughter’s medical bills at Reddington Hospital, adding that Adenuga was not solely responsible for her daughter’s welfare.
Ogun said a doctor certified her daughter to be fit and healthy and that despite being born with a low birth weight of 2.7kg, her current growth pattern was more than satisfactory. Besides, she said the only time her daughter was ill, she was diagnosed with an infection common to children when they start crawling and teething and was promptly treated.
“I have never denied the applicant access to my daughter, rather, he wants custody. I don’t believe it is in my daughter’s interest that the applicant be granted custody of my daughter,” she said.
According to her, Adenuga “is not suited to cope with the demands of having full custody of a 16-month old female child.” She added that “he does not have a definite schedule” and “comes home by 12.