New Telegraph

Sanwo-Olu, please rescue my children, cries distraught mom

A distraught mother, Mrs. Anna Ogechi Favour, is calling on the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to come to her aid and help in locating and retrieving her children, using state machinery. The distressed woman said that she had to use this forum to reach out to Sanwo-Olu because she knows that the governor was passionate about issues that have to do with children, women, law and justice. According to Favour, the children were forcibly ‘taken’ by their dad, Okechukwu Akpa, in connivance with some policemen and court officials.

She alleged that Akpa took the children in order to punish her, and that the man was used to getting his way because of his financial prowess. Favour, who cried bitterly as she spoke, said that it’s been almost a year since she last set eyes on her children. The children, two boys and a girl, are ages 12, 10 and seven respectively. She explained that before the situation got to the point where Akpa kicked her out and took over the children, she had been facing a series of domestic violence, with Akpa allegedly beating and hurling her against the wall. She alleged that Akpa’s penchant for throwing her against the wall has led to her becoming someone using physiotherapy waist support.

Reacting to her allegations, Akpa said Favour was a liar, explaining that he took the children away from her to give to his mom to mind because his wife was, “a prostitute, who rented an apartment, where she used to go and meet her lover. Whenever I’m not around, she’ll abandon the children to the house girl, to go and meet her lover.” Akpa said that he didn’t want his children to stay with Favour, and be seeing men.

Akpa also alleged that Favour and her lover had once made an attempt on his life, using motorcycle riders as their assassins. Favour, who said she had continued to stay in the abusive relationship because she had no father and mother, and had nowhere to go, explained that since she knew Akpa, he had always been suspicious and raising false allegations of mysterious lovers. She said that the situation had been trying for her. She added: “Whenever I return late from the market because of traffic, he would lock me outside. I trade at Ladipo Market, Mushin, while we live in Ikorodu. To make ends meet, I used to queue for BRT, and it usually takes time.

And when I got home, he wouldn’t listen to my explanation. He would call me all sorts of names, beat and lock me out. I used to sleep outside.” Favour said that there was no way she could have cheated on Akpa because, “when we got married, he took me to his village and they made me take an oath that I would never cheat on him or else something terrible will happen to me.

I took the oath, even though he didn’t take it.” However, in a video purported to be from the couple’s first son, the boy said: “I don’t know why my mom and daddy are always fighting. One day my daddy almost killed my mom by holding her by the neck.” Favour alleged that Akpa has refused her access to her children after conniving and bribing police and court officials at Sagamu Magistrate Court. She explained that she sued Akpa for taking the children away from her to Enugu State, where he then rented an apartment and kept them there. Favour had initially believed that the children were with her mother- in-law, but when she went to the woman’s place, the children were not there.

She would later get information that Akpa rented an apartment in Enugu and kept the children there, and had been changing house help for the children, while he stayed in Lagos State. She further explained that for years, Akpa had been in the habit of living apart from her and children for reasons she couldn’t fathom. She said: “He took my children to Enugu State and rented an apartment, where he left them with his sister. The sister had since left and Okey had been changing housemaids up and down. Presently, I heard that the children are all alone, with my first son now doing the cooking and minding his siblings.

This is too much for me to bear. This is a boy that had never done anything before, now going to the kitchen. What am I doing here? I have tried everything possible to locate the apartment in Enugu, but it was impossible.” She stated that she had also taken the matter to Ogijo Police Station in Ikorodu, Lagos State, where a policeman advised her to take the matter to Sagamu Magistrate Court. She said: “Okey had been invited several times to court, but he wouldn’t show up. When he finally came to court with the children, the court asked me to take my children home and come back with them the following Tuesday. Outside the court, my husband refused and struggled to take the children from me right there.

Then the officials put both of us in a Black Maria; it was there my husband brought out wands of naira notes, counted N50,000 and handed them over to his mom, and whispered something into her ears. She went to the court officials. Some minutes later, the court officials came out to tell me to allow him to take the children until the following week.

I was shocked, and this was after the same court that had already ordered that I should take my children home.” Favour further stated: “Since that fateful day, I had not set eyes on my children and I have been going to court. I’m desperate to know what happened and what is going on. Is the court not supposed to be the last hope of the common ‘woman,’ that has no money and nobody?” She said that since she has nobody she decided to use this medium to call on Sanwo-Olu to use his power as a lover of justice, to order the relevant authorities to look into her ordeal. This was also as she revealed that a human rights activist, identified as Saviour, who heard her story and feared for her mental state, had directed her to the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN), a nongovernmental organisation based in Lagos State. The group has since taken up the matter.

Explaining why he was always staying away from Favour and children, Akpa said it was due to the nature of his job and distance. Incidentally, he and Favour trade in the same Ladipo Market in Mushin. He said: “I remembered that I explained to her that my place of work was far from our house, and that I would be coming home only on weekends. I found out that she used to leave the children to go and be with her boyfriend. She also rented an apartment where she goes to meet her boyfriend. When I found out, she didn’t even deny it. But she took me to a court in Ogun State, where she opened up about her intention to take my children to her apartment.

I will not allow her to use my children for ‘sugar mummy.’ I know how much I have invested in them. She should have told me that she was no longer comfortable in my house, and I would have found a solution. My parents are still alive. I would have taken my children to them and leave her to do her ‘ashewo work,’” Akpa alleged that on two occasions, Favour had allegedly hired men to harm.

He said that one of the incidents happened in his house, while the second happened close to where Favour rented her new apartment in the Ijesha area of the metropolis. He narrated: “There was a day I attended a birthday party close to her apartment and on my way home, two motorcycle riders followed me to a quiet area, where they blocked my car and shattered the glasses. They wanted to drag me out, but they couldn’t.

The second incident was that she invited her boyfriend to my house and asked him to stab me with a bottle. I even sued her to court, but she refused to show up.” Favour, while denying the allegations, explained that she rented the apartment because Akpa had asked her to leave.

She recalled: “Before I rented the apartment, we called a family meeting, and he said he wanted to divorce me, that he wanted to remarry and wanted the new woman to live in his house. He has an apartment at Bariga and the woman has been living there with him. I got to know and met the woman after my children and I went to visit his apartment one day. She was actually the person that answered the door. I do not have a boyfriend, and I didn’t bring any guy home to stab him. He was the one that said he was no longer interested in marriage.

Moreover, I can’t cheat on him because I took an oath when we got married that if I went with another man, there would be consequences.” Favour said she was confused by Akpa’s defiant hold on the children, remembering that the last pregnancy had caused friction, with Akpa allegedly asking her to abort it. She had adamantly refused. That foetus is now a seven years old girl. Akpa: “One person cannot own a child. If she wants to see them, I can allow her, but I cannot allow her to take them. She will have to sign that she will not cause any problem.”

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