Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mothers and sons

A guest post from Ayisha Osori:

Taking stock
A year of confrontation

My 2011 starts the way 2010 began: wondering where my seven-year-old son is and mourning our enforced separation. In a nutshell, no change in a painful situation as his father continues to deny me custody of and access to our son.

One divorce and a re-marriage later came June 26, 2009, a date I will never forget. As I prepared to board the plane to take us to Boston for me to start a Masters program, my son was pulled from my arms and for twelve months I could not see him and had very limited access.  When I returned to Nigeria, I expected to be able to take my son home where he belongs, but for some reason, it makes sense to his father that our son is raised not by his parents but by a paternal uncle and his wife.

When my son was taken from me, my identity as a mother was brutalised and my belief in God and society shaken to its core. I waited for the heavens to fall for this injustice. Nothing. I waited for the clarion call of angels who guard the hearts of mothers.  Silence.  It took me close to a year of agonized pondering to understand why. We have a saying in Islam: whoever sees something wrong should change it with their hand; if not, then with their tongue; and if not, then with their heart. If I’m honest, I had done none of these things when I saw injustice around me. Like most Nigerians, I did not speak. And now there was no one to speak for me.

How does a society which worships parenthood separate babies from their mothers for no just cause? Why do men use children to punish or hold on to women? And what is it about our culture that makes it so easy to ignore and ill treat children and young people?

When inexplicable things happen you look for answers and explanations the same way you look for missing keys: under the table, between the cracks of chairs, in jacket pockets…everywhere and anywhere.   I found to my surprise that what has happened to me happens every day. Women comfort and oppress me in turn; telling me ‘this is a man’s world’, ‘stay in your corner and pray’ and ‘your son will find you when he grows up’.

In Nigeria – I am a woman first before I am anything else.  I am expected to be a certain way, and have certain expectations and to know my place.  Then, I am in the same position as the average man. Not crowned by ill-gotten wealth nor cloaked by the power of ill-used public office and so like most Nigerians, the system is not supposed to work for me. I am told God is my only hope; my sword and my shield. I smile through my tears; how easily we forget that God works in mysterious ways. I think of a Hadith which says in response to a question put to Prophet Muhammad PBUH about whether a camel owner should tether his camel or trust in God, Prophet Muhammad answered ‘ tie your camel and trust in God’.

I decided to tie my camel and take a different route; I filed a lawsuit.

Most of the sisters in sorrow I have met on this journey or whose stories have crossed mine, have taken the path of least resistance. One weeps outside the gates of the house and school where her four daughters are being kept from her. Another waited 4,380 days (the time it takes the earth to go round the sun 12 times) for the son she last saw when he was 3 to find her. And others stare at their adult children, now near strangers, with unfamiliar traits. On all sides there is pain.

It is for these women and their children, our children, that I share my story, because my story like theirs is not unique. However, what makes our stories different is how we choose to interpret them and use them to empower not only ourselves but those around us.

Gradually my thoughts stopped leading me to unanswerable questions outside the realm of my influence and I found myself wondering: what am I supposed to learn from this experience? How are other mothers like me coping, what are the children thinking and what can I do to help?

There is no poem, no picture, no perfume on earth that captures the depth and tenderness of a mother’s love. It is this tenderness that I hear keeps Death at bay when a mother is near. It is said that Death waits patiently for that second when a mother’s eyes are averted from the face of her child before taking the life of that child away. But humans have no such sensibilities and so openly and with impunity they tear children away from mothers and damage our collective psyche.

We tell ourselves that the decay in our society is because we have lost our values and followed the western world. The truth is we have lost the best of our ways and adopted only the worst from outside. We have traded the strength of the Aba women and the governance of Hausa Queens for western consumerism. We continue to buy machines we cannot make or fix and continue to treat children as chattel, while ignoring the science of psychology. In the West the young have a voice, they thrive and innovate, ours use drugs in the north to escape a bleak future and in the south, use arms to rage against inequity and to join the band of greed. The latest shared iniquity – the defilement of a young girl by policemen in Kano, might not have happened if this child lived with her mother and had not had to ‘travel’ to visit her. How many of our children are put at risk daily for reasons which dissolve under scrutiny?

As I continue on my path, I wish mothers like me would realize that what makes our stories powerful is how we can take what we have learned from our experiences to deal with our narratives from yesterday, the questions that haunt us today and our dreams for tomorrow.

My dream for tomorrow is that in a country where apathy, masked as piety and nobility, has risen to an art form, we each see something wrong and change it with our hands or our tongues or at the very least with our hearts.

Ayisha Osori is a writer and lawyer. She invites all mothers and children who have experienced forced separations due to divorce, death etc. to share their stories at [email protected]


Anonymous,  5:43 pm  

I know this can happen any where in Nigeria but it is more prevalent in the North where women are zero recognised and might as well be battery hens wheeled out to 'hatch' every 18 months.

It's a sad story, moreso cos the snatch was done in the US. Don't understand how they got away.

Saymama 6:58 pm  

Oh my goodness! My heart ached and weighed a ton as I read this. May bravery and courage and faith continue to be yours Ayisha!

Anonymous,  7:53 pm  

Ayisha, please stay strong. NEVER give up on him. No matter how long it takes. You will get your son back. I totally believe it. The law is actually on your side

Anonymous,  8:23 pm  

Powerful, very powerful. I would also suggest getting on the "Sharing Life Issue Program" with Chaz B of Inspiration Fm 92.3. God help us as women in the country fight for their rights and a voice

Myne Whitman 8:37 pm  

I hope she gets her son and at the same time maybe that would act to bring this issue to more prominence. SMH...

Ibhade {NG} 10:09 pm  

WOW!...*in a sober mood*...i can't even bear the thought or imagined being separated from my kids..the thought scares for this reason ALONE MANY mothers rather stay in a bad marriage than to be separated...noooooo...*shaking my head*....THE THOUGHT IS SCARING!...I like what Prophet Mohammad said; TIE YOUR CAMEL, THEN TRUST IN THE LORD!..a very practical answer...not everything is just need wisdom!...i pray she reconciles with her child very soon.

Ngozi 10:34 pm  

Ayisha, I don't know what to say. My heart goes out to you and Mohammed. Stay strong and don't give up your fight to win him back. God Bless

valentine 6:35 am  

There is the Child Rights Act. Use it.

Berry 9:56 am  

I pray that you are re-united with your son. If this happened here in Nigeria, please Jonathan Goodluck is on Facebook. Let's make some noise and get his attention. I dare anyone who hears this story and does not act to come and ask for my vote! God bless you, Ayisha.

authentic 10:12 am  

Unfortunately, justice is defined by the culture in which it is administered. The culture which the writer is from would rather see her settle things amicably with her husband so she can have unfettered access to the child rather than go through the courts. The hard truth is that the courts will be on the man's side as the culture sees children as the man's. That explains why they are surnamed after him. It would be faster to make peace than waste time and money through the courts. Nigeria is not Britain or America where a woman can take someone's child and give another man or give her maiden name to the child as surname. You only have that if the father of the child is unknown, i.e, the woman may have had multiple partners and the paternity of the child is in dispute. That can be sorted out now in the age of DNA testing if available cheaply and easily in Nigeria. Also I would suggest to our women to marry at their level of intellect or above. If this writer had married someone at her level, maybe less wealthy, she may not have had this kind of problem. If would be hard for an intellectually sound man to deny access to a child by the mother. This chap is probably one rich 'Rankadede' who would rather hide behind religion than intellectual reasoning.

authentic 10:14 am  

Unfortunately, justice is defined by the culture in which it is administered. The culture which the writer is from would rather see her settle things amicably with her husband so she can have unfettered access to the child rather than go through the courts. The hard truth is that the courts will be on the man's side as the culture sees children as the man's. That explains why they are surnamed after him. It would be faster to make peace than waste time and money through the courts. Nigeria is not Britain or America where a woman can take someone's child and give another man or give her maiden name to the child as surname. You only have that if the father of the child is unknown, i.e, the woman may have had multiple partners and the paternity of the child is in dispute. That can be sorted out now in the age of DNA testing if available cheaply and easily in Nigeria. Also I would suggest to our women to marry at their level of intellect or above. If this writer had married someone at her level, maybe less wealthy, she may not have had this kind of problem. If would be hard for an intellectually sound man to deny access to a child by the mother. This chap is probably one rich 'Rankadede' who would rather hide behind religion than intellectual reasoning.

Anonymous,  1:18 pm  

Unfortunately if you talk to any female in the family of the boy's father, they will tell you they support their brother.
The fight must start from your family. If you have a friend, brother or father not treating his wife right stand up and tell them the truth. Until men in this country begin to hear the truth about their actions nothing will change.
Any woman that still pally around with a brother that abuses a female should know that that female is somebody's sister.

Berry 2:18 pm  

@Anonymous...I'll only respond to the later part of your comment."Womenshould marry at their level of intellect or higher" That's so true, but what happens when a woman's intellect significantly appreciates within few years of the marriage from whatever level it was before and the man's apparently depreciates. It is happenning all around us!

Uzo,  3:49 pm  

I am one of the children Aisha is talking about. Children whose mothers are strangers to them because of stupid male ego,

People have no idea what happens to children who are snatched away from their mothers. Mine was a story of neglect, sexual abuse, psychological pain (that continues till this day on both my part and my mother's). PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA what this does to the parties involved.

I was hoping on my return to this godforsaken hellhole that things would have changed. But no! Instead things appear to have gotten worse. Women are still abused left right and center. In the North, East, West, SouthSouth, Eastwest. Wherever. It is the same story:- Know your place and stay there. Or else.

To authentic and the first anonymous: Please stop being STUPID. This has nothing to do with religious or cultural background. It is a sickness that is prevalent in almost every society in Nigeria. I am Igbo. My father did the same thing Aisha is experiencing to my mother. I have friends who are yoruba that had the same happen to them. And I bet you that I will find this same situation in almost all the tribes in Nigeria. we need to stop deceiving our selves.

That country of ours is SICK!!! Very SICK. He (yes, Nigeria is a total HE) has ZERO RESPECT AND REGARD FOR WOMEN. NO sense of identity of who he is a being in the world.

Aisha: I pray that the good lord will be your comforter as you go through this battle. God is an impartial Judge. You will get your son back and when you do - you will do better than your husband by allowing him to see his son whenever he wants.

authentic 5:15 pm  

Uzo this is a problem we are trying to respond to intellectually. It is unfortunate that you allow your personal circumstances and childhood abuse to come in the way of your senses by insinuating that those who have contributed intelligently are stupid. Please make your comment without being abusive. The writer of the article did not intend it to be a forum for settlement of personal scores. Back to the issue - I said categorically that it is a cultural matter in Nigeria that the children belong to the man. If you can change that perception, then you will win your case in court. Without dealing with the root, it is a lost battle. As it is possible to link both Christianity and Islam to the enslavement of the black race, it is possible to link the oppression of women to any ethnic group or people. That is not to say that religion is evil or that the cultures are evil. It simply means that the custodians of religion and culture are inherently evil and would use their position, religion, sex or whatever to oppress any weak part of the society. I am hoping Ayisha will be able to work things out with the father of her son so she can have unfettered access to their child. I will also counsel that she tries to move on with her life with or without this issue fully resolved. Ayisha you cannot remain transfixed in one position because of a divorce/ separation and the loss of a child. Make yourself available to be loved once again and if you find it, take hold of it without regrets. Have other children to comfort you and someday, your boy will come looking for you. Good luck with the legal battle but if you are up against one of these money bags in the North, you are up against a wall.

authentic 5:27 pm  

Berry is right. Some people advance in intellect while others retrogress. Unfortunately we have be poorly schooled in selection of marital partners. Many get into the home before discovering that the man they married is not presentable or that the lady cannot add 2+2=4 (thick in the head). Watch out for signs of a progressive mind while you are courting (if you are progressive and ambitious). If you marry on religious or cultural grounds alone in this age and time, you may have regrets, not a few. You need a combination of your intellect, culture and religious beliefs. If you leave your senses out at the onset, you will lose later if you chose to use it later.

A,  5:57 am  

As someone who knows both Ayisha and her ex, reading this article is too painful. The husband is ordinarily a reasonable man, of high intelligent (with a PhD I might add) and not the usual'Rankadede' as Authentic assume. Yes, he is from a wealthy family whose authoriatrian father, a man of the law, a former justice of the federation dominates all his children even though some her married. The husband is a very good friend who has allowed his father to dominate and cloud his judgement. He is a good man! But he is allowing his father to control his own family. Ayisha is more than a match for her on all count, she is brilliant and strong (which is probably a problem for the family she married into). To be fair to her, she has tried to resolve this amicably and outside of court and it is because of the impossibility of this that she has resulted to the law. The law is on her side and it is very clear about it. The judge just don't want to offend the aging patriarch which is just disgusting and they want to use their influence to break this woman. Wives don't leave the Belgores and she is suffering for daring to be different. As a father of a young girl I am totally devoted to, this story really scars me about her future. May she not marry into the wrong family!

Some of us who are friends of the husband have tried to get him to stop this nonesense, especially since poor Mohammed is not even living with him. We have tried and we have failed. It is really quite sad.

I am surprised that it has taking Ayisha this long to go public with her story because she is usually so feisty. They must have beaten this out of her.

Ayisha, I just want to say that although I am a friend of your ex, you'll be surprised how many of us are on your side. You'll be surprised. You have done the right thing by going public and I hope that you can make this a national issue. As a father with a daughter, this is too sad.

Ayisha, may Allah guide you and continue to give you the strength to fight both your tongue, heart and words if not for yourself and Mohammed, for my daughter and all those that will become wives and mothers. He that consoles will surely console you and help you to fight for justice.

In my head and around me 7:48 am  

My acquaintance's son was snatched from her in Lagos. Her former father-in-law staged an attack on her car as she was leaving the Estate she lives in. They did not take her son peacefully. She fought back and got a beating that landed her in hospital. And to think that the perpetrators of this crime have not been charged. That is because a lot of people do not believe that the judicial system can work for them.

Authentic said: "Have other children to comfort you" I do not think that it is that easy. Each child is an individual with their own unique personalities. Having other children may comfort and at the same time may complicate things because the parent has not successfully reconciled with the loss of the child.

Ayisha, I would really appreciate it if you could let us know if the courts award you custody. That way, we know that women can pursue legal action with the hope of winning.

All the best.

NaturalNigerian 7:52 am  

I heart you Ayisha. Every word in this post resounded with me for reasons I cannot go into here.

My thoughts are with you as you fight this all important battle. Here's wishing you strength.

Alex,  3:59 pm  

Here is wishing you strength Ayisha. It is hard to believe that a man of the law and someone of Justice Belgore's status will behave in this manner. I guess all that glitter is not all gold.

Anonymous,  6:38 pm  

@ Uzo
While I do understand that you speak from personal experience, this should not be not an excuse to insult people in a public forum.

If you would care to read my comment again, the phrase I used was "more prevalent". You do understand what that means, right?

Anonymous,  8:40 pm  

@authentic, you are a were (mad)Stupid idiot!

Aisha, i wish you the very best.

Arinze 11:03 pm  

Continue to be strong Ayisha and we wish you all the best.
Join this African magazine page to connect with Africans worldwide

Anonymous,  8:41 am  


Sad to hear about your experience and thanks for sharing. Please reach out to Ayisha ([email protected]). I know her and she really does not want this to be about her alone. She is trying to gather enough stories, not because of the sensationalism of 'gist' but to document and start something that is backed by data. Please help her and others like her to help bring some well needed public exposure to this issue because it is like a cancer, and the voices of the children who no one hears.
@ sympathizers and supporters - please share the blog link with those you think might know others who need encouragement to share their stories, not in public but to help Ayisha build data on the issue.

Tamunoibifiri Mobolaji-Kamson 2:13 pm  

I am so sad and my heart goes out to Ayisha. Please stay strong and God will see you through. For i know one thing he hears the cry of women.

Anonymous,  11:34 am  

I know the people Ayisha is dealing with. The Belgores a family of predominantly lawyers where you would think they would respect the law but they have no regard for the law, the way most Nigerians in power have no regard for the law. They are above the law.

Why is it that in this country, when you are in the right, when you have been cheated, or are being oppressed, everyone tells you to pray and be patient meanwhile the bad people, the people who do wrong continue to run around in broad day light and no one can do anything about it...not even the law?

Why is it that in this country when you try to do the right thing you are left with the taste of stale ash in your mouth and until you descend to 'taking matters into your hand'; start acting like the people who have done you wrong before you get anywhere.

That said, Ayisha, me too I join the others to say 'move on'. It is not in this Nigeria of today that you will get justice in a court over the family of a former Chief Justice of the federation. Biko, save yourself the headache...this one big pass you.

Anonymous,  7:44 pm  

i'd love to hear his side of the story

Anonymous,  9:02 pm  

As I read the comments to this blog I can not help but be shocked at some of the comments from the exchange of insults (shame on you!!!!) to those who say "move on" because "this one big pass you" or "have other children to comfort you" Shocking!!!!! Very shocking!!!! Is it possible to forget about or "move on" on a child that comes from your own loins?!!!

Aisha I write this with tears in my eyes moreso because I remember you once asked that I please bring you some sandwich bags from London for Mo's school lunch a few years ago when you lived in Lagos!! Whilst "God is your strength" may sound a bit weak and ineffective in your predicament, it is ultimately a most useful and encouraging prayer because whilst we may not be able to help you, God the Almighty, Creator of ALL is ABLE and He will help you!!!

Having said that please tell us if there is a way people like me can help because this kind of oppressive injustice affects us all.

Hold on to your faith Aisha!! He is ABLE!!! My heart and prayers are with you. I pray God will soften their hearts and they will consider the effect of all of this on Mo'!!!

God be with you

A Mum Too,  9:25 pm  

The insults are totally unnecessary.

Anonymous 7:44, his side of the story is irrelevant. No one wants their marriage to end so I'm sure he's scarred but nothing justifies kidnap.

Ayisha, no mother deserves what you have had to endure. I pray that it won't be for much longer and that God rewards for shedding light on this wickedness. I never knew such a thing could happen and I thank you for creating awareness. As I read, the line about ill-gotten wealth and office jumped out at me as hateful. You told of the evil your husband and his family did is a restrained manner so why attack others like that? Reading the comments I now understand where that contempt for the privileged comes from. It won't help your cause, though. I disagree with comments that tell you to move on. This is not a hopeless battle and you will win. However, you will only win if you dump this restraint towards people who showed you none. Your friends shouldn't be the ones revealing the identity of these kidnappers. Its should be you. Name them and shame them. Take that big name they feel gives the right to ride roughshod over you and drag it in the mud where it belongs. If they see their names in headlines everywhere and when you petition other legal luminaries, your Senator, Commissioner and Minister for Women's Affair, Inspector-General of Police, NGOs, clients of their law firm, international organisations who have feted the Belgores and given them awards with this shameful attempt to destroy your child's life, they will realize your power. Don't sit there disparaging the high and mighty, use them. Never give up on your son. Anyone who knows what it is to carry a child, bear him and raise him will support you. Do not hesitate to take them on and bring them down, the lot of them. What kind of women are in that family? God forbid that my father would have done something so wicked. I would smuggle my nephew out and return him to his mother. Fight for your child. That's what makes you a mum. God bless you.

Anonymous,  11:21 pm  

"How many of our children are put at risk daily for reasons which dissolve under scrutiny? " is one of the truest statements I've ever read. We intimidate our children from thinking for themselves, and force them to be quiet as a show of respect, but are we teaching them to think for themselves, and distinguish right from wrong?

Anonymous,  11:37 pm  

Pls Aisha, never give up on prayers and your struggle. These are the only seeds that you can sow presently and the harvest will be beautiful IJN.
Thank God for the internet - an effective voice for the masses and hopefully a future library for posterity.
Keep blogging about your efforts and experiences, they can only hide these from your son for a short while.

Anonymous,  12:48 am  

his side of the story is irrelevant huh? and yet we are supposed to feel sorry for the mother. looks like if the shoe was on the other foot women would be s cruel as men in this arena and shut them out as well. this is why i don't fall for these sob stories. it's all about 'justice' for me, not for all.

his side of the story is as central to this matter as hers

Omalicha 8:45 am  

There is really no need to be so cynical Anonymous 7:44. no woman no matter what it is deserves to be separated from her child.
Aisha i am not a mother but i have nieces and nephews i love so much that i think i would probably pass away if anything happened to them. so as a mother i can only imagine how heart broken you are.
i pray that God gives you the strength and courage to continue to bear up.

Anonymous,  8:56 am  

what has happened to "in the best interest of the child". my heart bleeds for all concerned.Ayisha please dont give up on yourself and your child. unfortunately, i cant describe your "sperm donor" as a father. he is a weak man that has lost the plot. make sure YOU dont lose the plot.i wish you all the best and i feel like this your matter will set precedence in our law courts. unfortunately, even the justice system appears to be lacking in justice when it comes to "the best interest of the child". We live and learn!Aluta continua

Anonymous,  9:01 am  

I also agree that the father's side is irrelevant. This is not a normal matter where you can have a side. I was beaten for many years by my husband and always thought my injuries were enough. It always upset me as much as the beating when people would still ask, "Ehn, what did you do?" as if there is something that deserves that. If he had custody and shed could seer her son then its better. But not when he was snatched from her and she doesn't know what is happening to him in an uncle's house. The husband’s behavior is too extreme that is why his side can't mean too much. But Aisha, take heart. There’s nothing God can not do. Today, there is no beating and we are solid.

Anonymous,  9:04 am  

as for his side of the comment, what does it matter? the child doesnt live with him. is his child a pawn in the game of "punish the woman that dared leave me". if you love your child so much, why ship him off to relatives? how does he know what his child is exposed to,as he is not there?what good ever came of denying access to the other parent when they are fit to be parents. i tell you, paying school fees doesn't make this "lost" guy a dad. how is the child supposed to feel?it takes a lot to be a man and this guy is still approaching adolescence. all the men before him that did this, where did they end up. if other people before you have made a mistake, u can be smart and not walk down the same road. it saves everybody a headache.

'dayo,  12:05 pm  

This is very sad yet very true, question though is what do we do to make a change. The injustice against children and women is getting too much and it is a human rights issue and must be stopped

Anonymous,  12:32 pm  

You only have Aisha's side of the story. Did she tell you she's a morally unfit mother, who was about to take off for Boston with her son without the knowledge of his father? 2 days before the incident, the boy's father had gone to see his son, who at that time, was in her custody. She NEVER mentioned she was leaving with their son. A saying form my people goes thus: Do not start trouble cos you can only control how it starts, not how it ends. Even in the US, the so called developed country, the child's interest is always at the forefront. Islam gives custody of a minor to the mother in case of divorce, the condition being that the mother must be morally available, which she's not. I am not saying that she has no rights to see her son, indeed her mother ought to have custody of the child, but in the light of the fact that she tried to 'abduct ' him AND prevent his father from having acess, what would you have the father do?
Pls Ayisha, for your son's sake, his emotional and psychological well being, do not drag his father through the mud. You know a law suit is not the answer, find an ammicable way of settling this. Your father-in-law once loved you, try to earn his trust and respect, and always remember:people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Anonymous,  12:42 pm  

No matter the outcome of the 'other sides' story, a child should not and must not be separated from his/her mother except if the circumstances are injurious to the said child. I always believe that any child has a relationship to each of his or her parent irrespective of. Setting up one parent against another by either parent always does not augur well for that child. Aisha, be bold. Be steadfast. Be strong. Yes, I will say it, Allah will be with you. Of course, at any point in life when in need or even, when not in need, one must turn to Allah. The mistake we Northerners make cos it's been drummed into our heads, is that, we await Allah's judgement even without lifting a finger. Meanwhile, we are taught to stand up, pray and Allah will help us. May He Alone be with you at your point of need. Amin

Ammah 1:25 pm  

Ayisah is my a very good friend of mine and i know first hand how much pain she is in.
The problem here is she is not fighting her husband but his father cos he has no say in the matter. It was his Father that went to the airport with SSS to snatch the boy from her. Her sone is the only male granchild of the family, i guess that makes the hold stronger. So now who deserves such pain???? It would have been easier i guess if moha was with his dad and not his uncle. The judge does not want to go against the Big justice so since the case started it has been one adjournment after another. Maybe they will keep at this until moha becomes an adult who knows??

Anonymous,  2:31 pm  

How do you know if he is using the child as a pawn without hearing all sides of the matter. Fact is he is a father and being separated from your child as a dad is just as hard as it is for a mom. This pity party means little to me as the mom's side is equally irrelevant. Let the sperm donor keep his kid.

Anonymous,  5:12 pm  

Unfortunately women do it too. I am a classic example. This is in the US we were married for 23yrs i brought her to America and before I knew it it was this is America, and not Nigeria. Be doing Naija father. We had 3 beautiful children.

When I was not a priority in her life, I left. She changed the phone to the house(which I signed of on, I will not put my kids on the street)and for almost 2yrs I could not speak to or see my kids. I complained to the court and did not get a hearing immediately, come the hearing date, the hearing officer they said was sick and case adjourned for another 9months I could not speak to or see my children. She knew this kids were my life so thats her tool.

I moved out of state and 3yrs after I remarried. My current wife said she would give me another child if that was the greatest pain. So I became a dad again at 50. My ex wife was furious because she had bragged that she had the ONLY son(we had two daughters and a son) and my family will have to come and beg her before they have access to the children.

As I write the kids do not talk to me with the exception of the middle one who insisted I had to be at her college graduation. Her mother refused me attend the reception, because it was at her house and I was not welcome.

She later remarried and left the pain and hurt on the kids and moved on.

Anonymous,  7:57 pm  

All comments hold valid points..some more biased than others.
For those of us of Islamic faith who are calling Gods name in this discussion, remember He says in the Quran;O ye who believe! Stand firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealings and let not hatred of others to you make you to swerve to wrong and depart from justice; Be just, that is next to piety, Then fear Allah for Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” Q5:8

There are 2 sides to every story. Neither mom nor dad should be seperated from their child. A child should not be used as a pawn. If she was indeed taking off without informing the father then that raises some controversy...who knows? she probably has a reason she deems justifiable for doing that if she truly did.

On the other hand, kidnapping is a crime. For whatever reason, even if her ex's family felt she was an unfit mom, they as a legal family who know better should have found a better way to address the issue instead of an unnecessary airport drama.It doesnt make sense that he is not even living with his dad if this is indeed true. Both parents should be allowed access to the child.
My heart goes out mainly to the child. No one has even mentioned him much. How about what he wants?Its very unfair to have him in the middle of this. His best interest is what we should be looking out for.
I do feel for you Ayisha, just remember to be a selfless mom even in this struggle, dont be tempted to be vindictive regardless of your pain. You get more bees with honey than vinegar. I do hope they are reasonable in the court of law.
I admire your courage, you are the best to know where your shoe hurts but think mainly of your son in every step you take.
I pray this is resolved with the least amount of pain. I wish you well.

Fred 8:44 pm  

This is a truly pitiful tale and I feel for her.

However, her assertion that Nigeria has "lost its values" and taken on the "worst from the outside" is, in a word, BS. If western-style law truly were in place, this woman wouldn't lose her child. In fact, to carry things to their logical and absurd end, being a Muslim, she has nothing about which to complain.

Anonymous,  9:45 pm  

Ayisha, its unfair to mislead your readers and take advantage of them. You don't leave a man then marry the widower of his late first cousin. Not when you attended the wedding, knew them as a couple and when she died so tragically at the young age of 26. You crossed a line and these are the consequences. You didn't think the other parent had a right to know where his child is when you were leaving for America without informing him so why do you expect better than you gave? Disrespect is being repaid with disrespect. You have suffered and I hope they are now satisfied and stop bringing themselves to your level. They are a respected family and didn't just start today. They should not allow a dirty fight with you to spoil their name. They should maintain their dignity and return the son to his mother or father so that you can both share custody. Your son will be raised with his cousin who is now also his sister but as flawed as you are, you do have that right.

Anonymous,  10:13 pm  

To Anonymous posted at 9.45pm. Kindly explain what remarriage has got to do with this issue. Is remarriage an offence? What or how does this give the family a right to abduct a child? Was the said widower forced to remarry or did he not remarry of his own volition. Please let's stop bringing up petty emotional issues. God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

Anonymous,  10:20 pm  

Anonymous poster 10:13pm, it has a lot to do with it. Its wrong and its petty but it is not irrelevant. We are all but human. Don't misunderstand me, the actions of the Belgores are getting excessive and beneath what is expected by those who respect them but there is provocation. If Ayisah wants to tell the story, she should not be biased. She wronged, has been wronged now she should be reunited with her child.

Anonymous,  11:31 pm  

Aisha,no leaf drops from a tree without the consent of Allah,people who go to court never becomes friends a muslim,please pray ask prayerful people to join you in prayer,ask for forgiveness of sins if it exits and i know your son,ex husband and you will be friends again.your son will return to you,pls allow room for dialogue and am positive there is nothing that prayer cannot do.this year insha allah your son will re-unite with you.please leave bitter alone,its satan handiwork.

Anonymous,  1:03 am  

interesting how all these 'friend's of Ayisha and Yakubu and the noble Belgores who ignore court orders are all anonymous.

To the annonymous who said Aisha was at the wedding of his dead cousin -provide proof because I happen to know she was not there. And so what if she was? Is it not our big men like OBJ who are sleeping with their sons' wives everyday...oh but that is okay because they are men - they are held down to lower standards. Meanwhile when men marry the sisters of their dead wives or their first cousins as 'fulanis' reportedly do...there is nothing disgusting there abi? No line has been crossed there.

As for a respected family..that's a laugh. First of all the Belgores already had a history of kidnap and strong arm tactics and if the scardy cats had the guts to tell the truth they will tell of how they hid this same poor child from his mother when he was only 18 months old on the instructions of a sitting Justice of a supreme court judge...on no legal one knew that they were a respectable family who should not do that abi?

and when a former chief justice comes flying to the airport in the morning on the lying pretext of his son that he was not 'informed' of the trip and surrounded a 6 year old and his mother with immigration and SSS saying the mother was child trafficking that was noble abi?
is it not our so called culture that when children quarrel the adults try to settle them, in this case does anyone know if Justice Belgore called the mother and said 'i hear what you are about to do, for the sake of peace come let's talk about it? let us for the sake of arugment say he considers her his inferior - did he call her step father a man who is supposed to be his friend? no...he took law into his hands because he is 'the law'
this story is the story of Nigeria pure and simple: about power and oppression and strong arm tactics. Is Aisha Babangida's daughter not in her father's house in Minna with her ex -husband not allowed to even smell the house to see her...that is Islamic law abi...where the children belongs to the men...oh only if the girls father has more money and power. what happened in their own I said the usual 'big mannism' and feeling that rules are for 'lesser mortals'.

maybe if the Belgores had taken the just road this would not happen...after all the event did not happen yesterday...what took her this long to speak up?

for those who are interested, instead of making up stories - go to court and pull out the court filings and read the facts that each party has sworn to. oh i forgot...this is one deals with facts...only conjecture and feudal emotions.

that time is is ending...people are not going to keep covering for this so called 'leaders' who have two personas - one public face where they pretend to be humble and kind and decent and a private one where they get up to absolutely no good.

Anonymous,  1:04 am  

'HOPE' - for many in the world who simply roll over & accept the status quo (thank you!); esp those that live under strictest religious laws that define the legal age of the ward of the male child in separation; deep patriarchal societies... where women are still viewed as objects; and challenging legal systems that deny any mother locus standi. Hope: that your legal pursuit in Nigeria embraces the silent prayers of mothers and children in the world. Hope: that just as there are challenging men, there are also good ones that were reared and cared by strong balanced women who taught them right from wrong. The magnitude of what you've done can never be under estimated. Your case is no longer personal. Firstly, its "legal" given that it could set a legal precedence in your country, as well as in jurisdictions that use common law, women struggle to establish locus standi. Additionally, it seeks to establish a precedence where the courts are reluctant to interpret the application of conflicts of law:(the application of religious laws vs constitutional laws: where the former has more legal weight, then the latter). Secondly, you are challenging the interpretation of sharia law on custody of children, and more so, the boy child: (and I love you so much as a sister for taking the courage). Thirdly, you are challenging culture and tradition by trying to introduce a new mental frame on child custody issues and the right of a mother to have a say in upbringing of her child. The great thing about your case is that its in Nigeria: you've ratified CRC and CEDAW. Use internal and external pressure to bring about the change. Rely on HR Law : they don't require that you change your culture but only segments that are detrimental to the evolution of society. Be part of the shadow reporting process (its a confidential process): Govt usually commit to change when they know that they will be exposed internationally, that includes the Bench. Don't stop writing about your experience: document it - share it for international consumption (I would like to share your story on my page). Form strong partnerships with the women's movement esp. the Islamic women's movements (I've met so many dynamic, balanced, strong women): I will send you links with international NGOS that could support your case. Consider establishing an international petition for your right to be heard in the court: preparing a dossier documenting your case, circulated to the International Bar and UNCEDAW on the challenges you face, would be a good start. Lastly, offer better solutions then what you're asking your society to give up. Always take the higher moral ground and ask the hard questions. Brave the storm

YinkaSaySomething,  2:38 am  

Ayisha my Muslim sister. Your story brings tears to my eyes, [as it should to every mother], as I remember what I went through to have the "privilege" of looking after my own only son too, during the extremely turbulent and tumultous years of my, eventually failed, first marriage.... At some point in fact, after he got a job in Ireland and we moved from Nigeria, it appeared that my son and I had successfully escaped the strongholds, and eventually [after all said and done], ended in a court I could afford. That day, my son's dad told me in open court, that, by not remaining with him [the dad], I had "forfeited my right to be a mother". My heart bled as that arrow hit a vulnerable spot, hearing those words from the father of an only child. A child whose pregnancy was almost aborted less than 12 weeks old. 11 years later, he was fighting custody of this one child in a relationship that started failing from that time onwards. A child whose brother or sister was aborted by the same dad before it could have the chance to live. A usually outspoken graduate of 1983, I lost all confidence, and, confused, distraught and depressed, considered suicide. Ayisha, I am a Christian, so it's not a Muslim thing. I have come to believe it is a male ego thing. It appears there is "Something" in some men that conjures up the "POWER to punish" the woman that "dares" consider leaving them, when it is obvious the relationship no longer exists. In my case, when the court awarded me custody, [and his access rights], he was red-eyed and bitter, and "punished" me, by refusing to see the child [till today]. Now the "child" is aged 23 years, and I guess, to put closure to the pain he feels, he tells people his dad is dead. Otherwise, perhaps, the young man might have had no real life now, living painfully, in the bitter shadows of his parents' woefully failed relationship. How sad that would have been, not for us [the parents], but for the young man. Your story will resonate with lots of women. The flip side of this is that there are women who delibrately deprive the children from seeing their fathers, for whatever reasons, apart from cases of actual violence and domestic abuse. That also is wrong. I applaud your courage in taking steps to do what you do. If your child is an American citizen, the courts WILL decide "in the best interests of the child", and regardless of which hole his dad choses to hide him in, if the courts chose, he will be made to vomit your son. In my view, every child needs two parents, but where that can't be achieved, the child [he/she] needs it's mother in order to be nurtured, and then it needs it's dad. That is the proper way. For now, brace yourself for a long drawn out battle, and a wicked smear campaign that WILL be carried out by friends and family, [especially the ones closest to you], using religion, gender and culture as deadly weapons to attack your heart and mind. I strongly believe that those mothers who have survived the pain and agony of separation from their young children, and who have survived and become stronger, should hold the hands of those who still mourn. Speaking out like this, brings healing, and the ability to fight back, because you will get help. Good luck.

YinkaSaySomething,  3:12 am  

Blast, there are way too many "Anonymous" People on this thread.. many of whom are speaking through their noses. How can men rightly determine HOW a woman who lost her child is supposed to feel? A failed relationship is just what it is. Failed. The facts that made it fail do not matter, neither does the story of the woman or the man. The only fact that matters is that a young child needs its mother. Uncles and Aunty's try their best, but in 99.9% of cases, they are poor substitutes for ONE'S OWN mother. I bet some of the people making flippant comments will not cry if their own mothers die aged just 50. Perhaps, because they wouldn't miss her[???] A child needs to be nurtured BY IT'S MOTHER. The logic that a woman is "giving the child to "ANOTHER MAN" is both primitive and shocking". It doesn't matter how highly placed they are, Ayisha, though it may take long, all this senselessness will end soon. No man is God, regardless of how highly influencial or significantly powerful he is. NO MAN IS GOD... Just keep focus, Ayisha, and please, [now that you've gone public] dont eat in strange houses. Some of these "Anonymous" people are people you know, people who just ate in the same dish with you. God have mercy on us!!!

Anonymous,  3:36 pm  

Ayisha,don't give up the fight! Someday the courts in Nigeria will grant mothers their rights to custody of their children. Maybe when more female judges hear these cases, because they better understand the issues at stake. While we wait, we continue to appeal to the highest court to come to the aid of mothers in such predicaments. GOD ALMIGHTY'S court of course. You were lucky, you knew where your son was! My daughter was yanked from her grand mother's hands and driven away screaming and yelling. And for 13 months we had no idea where she was! By the way this was in spite of the existence of a court order keeping the child with her mother. You know, the bottom line is God is still supreme!Twelve years later, she reestablishes contact with her mother. But she is not the child I had hoped to raise! The trauma she had endured, had taken its toll on her both physically and emotionally. This of course meant nothing to her egotistic father! I suggest you take every opportunity you get to see and spend time with your son for now. SURELY he will come looking for you. There is never a question about who bore a child! Only paternity of a child can be questioned.

Jeremy 7:58 pm  

I have to say some of the comments above are too personal and close to the bone. If any commentor makes another comment specifically about Ayisha I'm not going to be able to approve it. I appeal to you all to stick to the general issues, not make remarks about the specific people involved.

Thank you.

Anonymous,  11:00 am  

I think that the issue here is that there are no laws practiced in Nigeria.

Although most stories of seperation are linked to Children and their mothers. It also happens the other way round. I know two very personal stories where the fathers are seperated from their children and they cannot do anything about it because the mothers come from richer or more powerful families.

The lesson to learn here is that we must fight to do the right thing even if that will cause us to be ridiculed or shamed in our community. It might look like the world will be against you but the moment you decide to fight for justice then God will be on your side and you will be greatly surprised where help and support will come from. - The Hausa Culture does not encourage us to speak out for the sake of the family name....whatever that is.

authentic 12:44 am  

The true picture of the story is emerging. This is purely a family affair and should be handled as such. These dirty linens hanging in public is enough. Ayesha being remarried, move on with your life. The Belgores,do not repay disrespect with disrespect. Show yourselves to be honourable people. Allow Ayesha access to her son if you get the assurance that he will not be taken out of the country without his father's consent. Similarly, the father cannot take the boy out of the country without the mother's consent. Shikena ko!

Anonymous,  6:46 am  

I woke up at 4.40 am to see someone had forwarded me your blog and had to get up to say something as it touched very raw nerves. As a child I experienced forcible separation from both my mother and father due to their inability to stay together and like your little Mohammed had to live with an uncle and his family. As a wife I am going through a separation from my husband so my children are also experiencing a separation from a parent. When I say I know how it feels I DO! Separation from both parents no matter how wonderful the foster family is a terrible thing. I will not dwell on the possible damage (this was done by another writer) but will try to look at the possible solution.

My advice/suggestion to you Ayisha is to negotiate access despite the fact that the case is court. I know you have tried but try again and again! You may consider this as eating most undeserving humble pie but believe me it would most best serve the interest of your son. Negotiations should not only be with the father of your child and father in law but most particularly with the family with whom your son resides. Forge a relationship/alliance with this uncle/auntie to enable you access your son pending when you are able to resolve issues "amicably" or legally whichever comes first. Eat further humble pie by contacting the father of your child personally and directly - regardless of how impossible he may seem at this point, you once loved this man and he you. Reach out to your father-in-law who from the writings on this blog appears to be a major factor try friends, colleagues etc. Also use you mother-in-law you would be surprised at the impact (positive or negative- you must know which before you try) she may have, the father of your child’s siblings, uncles, aunties, friends etc Be careful in your choice (you know the family) but USE anyone that may serve your sons best interest at this time. Yes my dear sister you will eat humble pie not because you have done anything wrong but because of your son who's interest is paramount. If we count the calories in the amount of humble pie i have eaten for the sake of my children i would be at least a size 24 (I am currently a 14 and was an 18 before all this wahala- something good came out of it!)

Both you and the father of your son have roles to play in his life, sometimes these roles are so intertwined it is difficult to say where one ends and another begins but at this young age you have a greater role but must share with the father of your child. The father of your child does have a role to play in his life and for all your sakes it should be a positive one. Sometimes on issues I am the bad cop with the kids but get their dad to come in as the good cop to arrive at a decision that would benefit them.

As for your husband, I do hope you have his continued support and pray that your union will be a happy one with Mohammed included in this mix. As for you Ayisha, May the Lord keep you to play the role he has destined for you - mother to Mohammed and others wife and partner in this journey of life to your husband.

Above all dial up to God directly believe me he hears, sees and answers.

magudubu 9:26 pm  

To Authentic
You are being naive and insensitive by suggesting that it has to do with intellect. People change and I have seen very educated men treat their wives and girlfriends like a piece of furniture. We need to avoid using social and psychological yardsticks developed in the West to unravel and deal with issues in Africa affecting women, children and men alike.

Anonymous,  1:39 am  

Sorry FRED but u'r a complete moron. I pray to God you start engaging your brain when you say or write things.
Can't you read and then process the information?


Wow, my heart is burdened. If more women share similar stories more often, perhaps more voices will decry this gross injustice against women.

it's sad really. May God help us overcome.

Anonymous,  3:43 pm  

Indeed Fred is a big idiot and does need to think with his brain ...not his d..k!

Ayisha, you are a strong woman indeed and I do pray that you never give up...because you will get your son back. dont stop this fight (and be prayerful).

I am a seperated mum too and your story just makes me shiver with horror. I am scared because I may be faced with this situation too if I decide to re-marry. However, no woman wants to be alone and no woman can bare being seperated from her kids.

More grease to your elbows for speaking up - you are an inspiration and I believe women in Nigeria can learn valuable lessons from you. May you win this case and may you find happiness and peace. Welldone!

Anonymous,  11:58 am  

"For the past few years, however, Stephanie's (Stephanie Seymour, famous Victoria's Secret model) personal life has been tabloid fodder. She and her husband, Peter Brant, were in the throes of what seemed to be a bitter divorce, complete with name-calling and ugly accusations, until they recently decided to reconcile. "I had an epiphany," Stephanie says. "[I] went to my husband's house with a sort of peace offering. ... I just said to him, 'We both love our children too much to let this go on any further.' Most of what's said in the press really is nonsense, and we just decided then and there to reconcile and work things out between the two of us." -- The Oprah Show

I post this because the child here, Mohammed, is most important right now. The parents are two adults who are free to make their own choices but this child is at the mercy of his parents/guardians until he is an adult. If Ayisha was taking their child abroad without informing his father, that's wrong (unless the father is physically abusive and she and the child were in danger) but it's also wrong to seize a child from his mother and not let her see him (unless she's physically/emotionally abusive towards the child).
Of course, Ayisha has remarried so this is not a matter of getting back together with her child's father, but I would say to try and reconcile with him so that they can both know and grow with their child.

Anonymous,  11:04 am  

I feel you. I called K A to ask if we could talk. I believe we can make a difference some day. It's happened to me and I truly do not wish this trauma on my worst enemy.
May God sort you out the soonest soonest. I am a Christian and it's just by His grace that I cope.


Anonymous,  7:18 pm  

Let me start by saying I do not know these people. So unless there is some background information that people have, I'm surprised people are willing to label the father as evil so quickly.

It seems the mother was trying to do the same thing to the child that she is now accusing the father of.Take the child and run away to the US. Why doesn't anyone see the wrong in that?

A child belongs to both parents. One parent doesn't have more rights over the child. So if the mother tried to run away with the boy, then she's only getting a taste of her own medicine.

This is not a court matter, this is a family matter. Trust will be key to this being resolved. Both parents have to build that trust with each other so the fear of abduction is put to rest.

It's sad when parents put the bitterness and anger they have against each other before their child(ren). There are no winners in this situation, just a bunch of broken hearts:(

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