When Funsho Adeniyi also known as Funsho-Iyabeji got married to Emmanuel Ogungbe, the marriage was not blessed with children. But after ten years of waiting, the couple then living together in the Republic of Ireland city of Dublin, opted for a child through surrogacy, after about six failed episodes of IVFs, and they had twins on 29th of April, 2016. The babies, now six years old, were named Josephine Taiwo and Joseph Kehinde Ogungbe.
However, even with the arrival of the twins, the Ogungbes’ marriage could not be sustained. It broke down irretrievably four years after they had the babies, according to Ms Funsho’s account, despite making efforts to save her marriage.
Funsho alleged that her husband was violent in nature and, at the slightest provocation, would beat her in front of the children. According to her, Ogungbe was not involved with the care of the twins and treated her like a maid in the house where she must do the house chores before going to work.
“He normally collected my salary from me and insisted I must account for all the money I earned and how I spent it. If I dared him, it would be a big problem for me. I endured all these, first for the fear of being ridiculed publicly and, secondly, with the hope that things would improve for the best. In fact, my siblings and friends never understood why I could not assist them financially since I was working and earning my salary regularly. Besides, my husband would call my friends and family behind me and tell them I was having illicit affairs and spending all my money on boyfriends. He would tell them that I never worked in my entire life and that he was the one taking care of my responsibilities and those of my eldest son and siblings in a bid to create discord in my family using all known crafty tactics.”
Ms Funsho said that it was when she had had enough of the physical, emotional, psychological and mental abuse that she left the marriage. She said that, though Mr Ogungbe made attempts to stop her from leaving, she refused his entreaties having realized that her children had already been exposed to violence and other experiences she had been made to suffer in the hands of her husband and the kids had started to exhibit traits of the negative effects in their school in Dublin.
According to Ms Funsho, she moved from her marital home to a government-arranged accommodation when she noticed that the older children from Mr Ogungbe’s previous marriage were being used to intimidate her and her own children.
“He would use his children to fight me. That was when I moved out and then convinced him to allow me relocate my kids to Nigeria where I thought they would be better off as they only attended school in Dublin once a week because the school was unable to cope with their new attitudes. It got so bad that the kids were referred to some special agencies that care for children with mental disabilities. So, I took them to Nigeria and enrolled them at The Bells School, Ota, Ogun State, as boarding students on a special respite arrangement.
Mr. Ogungbe agreed to bear part of the cost of the relocation initially but things took a different turn when he decided to not offer any form of support despite being in charge of all the family’s finances. We jointly own several properties of which he is solely in charge and would collect annual rents of over ten million naira. He never gave me any money. If I need any money, he would ask me to write the list of what I was going to use the money for before approving it”.
Ms Funsho stated that when she could not bear the financial obligations alone, she had to return to Ireland in 2020 to work and earn more money to maintain the children while her younger brother attended to the kids in Nigeria. She claimed that her ex-husband during the Covid pandemic, returned to Nigeria in 2020 and took policemen to harass her younger brother and forcefully took the children from him while he threatened to jail them if she or the younger brother made any attempt to retrieve the children from him. Ms Funsho said that Mr Ogungbe left her children in the care of her younger sister whom he got married to while in Nigeria and later returned to his UK base.
Ms Funsho said she tried to take the children to live with her in Ireland but her former husband had petitioned the Irish government accusing her of kidnapping their children, thus the embassy officials insisted on having court permit to enable them issue the children travel visa in that regard. She said she then initiated a custody law suit at the Lagos High Court.
“However,” she said, “Deji Ogungbe termed the matter as kidnap and instituted a criminal kidnapping case against me at an Abuja magistrate court with the help of the Chief Magistrate who is an in-law to Deji’s new wife, Bukola. In a space of few days, the court expedite the processes using a direct criminal charge where Deji Ogungbe was the plaintiff. Despite my lawyer’s argument that I am the mother of the children and that under the Nigerian law, a mother cannot be said to have kidnapped her children, the Magistrate still issued an order for my arrest if I failed to appear before him on 12th of November, 2022 because Deji told the court a lie that I seized the children at gunpoint”.
Ms Funsho claimed that her ex-husband always ignored her calls made to discuss the children’s welfare, alleging also that she received reports that her children were being maltreated by Mr Ogungbe’s new wife.
“After his marriage to Bukola, he convinced his new wife to apply for the adoption of the twins whom they both know have a mother who is capable and willing to care for them. Bukola went ahead and applied to adopt the children so that they can use her to bring the children to the UK. They both lied to the children that I was not their biological mother, that I stole them from Bukola at childhood. They told them that their real mother was dead. As soon as Deji saw that I had left the country, he went and arrested my son, David Solomon, whom I had before I married him, falsely accusing him of conspiracy and kidnapping of the twins and illegal possession of arms and ammunition. Deji went as far as releasing a video online calling me and David kidnappers and he told people to do justice to us when they find us and collect my children from me.”
Ms Funsho, who is appealing to relevant authorities for help, said that her son was rearrested immediately after he was granted an administrative bail on 2nd of November 2022 and moved to Abuja by police officers drafted from the SCID.
All efforts to secure his bail, she said, have proved abortive.