Are you legally married?
Yes. I have been legally married to Mr Ugochukwu Obasi since 2013.
How did you meet him?
We actually met in Lagos. I was working at the time when he came in from Spain. He said he had issues that brought him back to Nigeria. He said he invested in a business and was expecting a container to arrive here. While waiting for it, he met me and started talking about marriage. In the process, he needed some money to do a few things. I gave him the money because I was the one working at that time as he was broke. He came to Nigeria because he had a lot of issues in Spain.
What kind of goods did he deal in?
At that time, he said he was importing electronics and different things into the country. The plan was to invest in Nigeria because I told him that I was not good with distant relationships.
How much did you give him?
At first, I gave him N900, 000 and another time, I gave him N700, 000.
Did he tell you what he really needed the money for?
He said something was wrong with the goods he was trying to get across the border into Nigeria and he needed money. I was working at the time and had access to funds so I gave him money. I paid the money back to my company
Did he refund the money?
He didn’t. I paid back the money because I was still working. I gradually paid it off. I loaned the money to him and he didn’t pay back.
At what point did you decide to get married to him?
He said he was back in Nigeria to start all over again. He told me he had picked up a job in Nigeria and then he proposed to me.
Did you have a feeling that anything was wrong as of the time he proposed to you?
No. He presented himself as genuine and I had to accept.
What problems do you have with him now?
Yes. After we got married, he convinced me to move to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with him. I was working in Lagos. I had my National Youth Service Corps programme in Lagos. So, I moved to Port Harcourt with him because he said that was where he got the job and wanted us to settle there.
Three months later, he told me he wanted to travel out of the country, that the company he had a transaction with was asking their partners to come back for a refund, and at that point, he needed money. He didn’t have the money but he convinced me to lend him the money and that he would pay back. I took N500, 000 from my mum and N800, 000 from my sister, gave the money to him and he travelled out of the country. He managed to refund the money little by little and I paid back the money. But he didn’t return until a year and six months later. He travelled three months after we got married on June 1, 2013.
When he returned, he said he had moved to Hong Kong. He initially told me he was going to Spain but later said he moved to Hong Kong. I understood later that a lot of things had gone wrong within that time because I noticed he had a different passport and a different name.
Did he tell you why he changed his identity?
I asked questions as I didn’t understand what was happening. He told me he ran into some issues when he went to Spain and had to travel to Hong Kong. He said he would discuss the new passport with me later. But to cut the story short, while he was in Hong Kong, he sent some money to me because I kept asking him what he was doing there. When he came to Nigeria, he got a property and left the documents with his parents. I didn’t see the documents of whatever land he bought. That was when I knew that something was up because I didn’t understand why he was behaving that way.
By then, I started getting pictures from a Japanese lady naturalised in the US, who claimed to be his mistress or whatever. He pleaded with me that it (his relationship with the lady) was a one-time mistake he made and that the woman was trying to ruin our relationship. He said it was just an affair that happened in the past. I didn’t believe that story much but he said he was back to Nigeria and wanted to make amends. I didn’t know that was not all.
In 2015, he actually married the lady and they had children. So, I only discovered that this year. But he told me it was an affair he had that produced the children. But he left again and I didn’t see him for two years. He came in again in 2017; so, he came into Nigeria every two years and would beg me and my family, saying he was sorry and wouldn’t do what he did again. I got pregnant in 2017 during the time he came to beg my family.
Was it with your consent?
Yes. He came and begged everybody that he was sorry. A village meeting was held and he begged that he was back for good – the same storyline he usually gave. Each time he came to beg, I would have picked up my life again because he took me off a job each time he came back and he didn’t send much money. When he returned in 2017, I was working as a nanny. He begged and after counselling, I went back to him and got pregnant. When I thought we were moving forward, he left me again. I was two months pregnant in Lagos when he left. I carried that pregnancy and had to stay at my mother’s house in Port Harcourt. I had a son and when the child was nine months, he (Ugochukwu) came back again, saying he knew I had a baby and wanted to see his child. But I told my people that I could not go through it again, having gone through the pregnancy alone and taken care of the child.
What was his response?
He said as the father of the child, he had every right to see his child, and that I could not deny him access to the baby. I didn’t say I would deny him access to the child, but I couldn’t go back to the marriage.
Did he tell you where he was going when he left you with the pregnancy?
He told me he was going to the United States of America. Actually, he never told me any of his plans until the week when he wanted to carry out the plan. I have never supported the idea of him travelling anywhere from day one; he knows that. When I agreed to marry him, I told him I don’t do long distance relationships. He has left me four times since we got married. He left in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
You said he married another woman in 2015 and has kids with her. Are you still legally married to him?
We haven’t actually had a divorce, except for now that there are things that have happened this year.
He came to Nigeria in February and called me, saying that he was back. He asked for forgiveness and said he wanted to see me and the child in a hotel. I told him I wouldn’t do that because I wasn’t his local prostitute. I told him that if he felt he had a family in Nigeria, he should have, at least, paid the rent for us to have a roof over our heads. I was staying with my brother at that time and was working with an American school in Lekki. That was the job I used to sustain myself and my child. He said he rented a place for me in Port Harcourt but I left the place to look for a job in Lagos, which he didn’t approve of. I told him there was no other way to survive with my child if he was not sending anything to me.
So, I told him I would meet him in a public place. I did that because he had beaten me before. In 2015 when he came in, he abused me. I overheard him telling a family member that he would be returning to the US. When I questioned him about it and seized a document he kept somewhere, he took his belt and beat me mercilessly. We lived in a storey building and I had to jump from the building down. That was how I survived the beating and was rushed to hospital.
So, when he came, I went with the child to an eatery. He saw the child and wanted to talk about a lot of issues but I told him I was not interested because I was done with the marriage. After that day, he tried to reach me but I came to realise that the reason he returned to Nigeria occasionally was because of the goods he had brought in. So, he used those periods to make up with me, and when he cleared his goods, he would go back. I was being a fool, thinking he was coming back to his family to come and beg and all that.
You claimed he assaulted you in 2015. Do you have anything to prove this?
I have the pictures. I have the medical report.
Did you inform your in-laws about these issues?
His family supports him because he is the breadwinner. So, whatever he says is what is accepted.
Who has custody of the child?
After February 2020, I got a job as a caregiver and my boss had just had a baby and I was required to travel with her for a period of three weeks. I was not expected to travel with my own child. So, I took my child to my mother in Port Harcourt. Within the space of three weeks, he learnt I was not around, came to Port Harcourt with the police, arrested my mother and took my child. He came with police personnel from a division but they refused to let him take the child away without the mother’s consent. So, they discharged the matter. He later apologised to my mother and said he didn’t mean to arrest her. But two weeks later, he came with policemen to arrest my sister, her husband and my mother. He accused me of eloping with another man and abandoning his child.
Is that true?
How is that true? He claimed he didn’t know my job, and that I ran away with my lover and abandoned the child.
Do you know the whereabouts of the child?
As I speak to you, I don’t know the whereabouts of the child. My child is two years and seven months old. But the same police he used have now come to realise that he lied to them because the child was not abandoned but left with my mother when I had to take a foreign trip.
Are you saying that he took the child away?
It is an abduction.
Have you filed any official complaints with the authorities?
As it is right now, the matter has got to the Inspector General of Police and the Rivers State Commissioner of Police. I also wrote to the Comptroller of Immigration, just in case he wants to leave the country, and to the Department of State Services. I have the necessary documents. The International Federation of Women Lawyers is also involved. It has been six months since he has been with the child. The same police he used have been trying to reach him but he has switched off his mobile phone line. That is not all. He also brought a court judgement to tell the police that he had divorced me since 2019 and that the court gave him custody of the child. The letter he presented showed I was absent as a respondent. We followed up on the letter and confirmed that it was forged.
I want my child back. The police handed over the child to him but are not making any effort to bring him back. He threatened to travel out with the boy. I thought he would have been declared wanted but nobody has done that. This is the longest period my child has been away from me. I am not interested in marriage. I received another divorce paper from him. So, the divorce case is in court.