By Dipo Olowookere
The battle for the custody of a child between Mr Eniola Adenuga, son of Globacom owner, Mr Mike Adenuga, and the mother of his child, Damilola, has taken a new twist.
According to report, a Tinubu Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the arrest of the younger Mr Adenuga for refusing to give the custody of his child, Anthena, to the mother.
Punch reports that the chief magistrate, Mr T.A. Elias, in a ruling on Thursday, August 16, 2018, said the 28-year-old was in contempt of court, saying Eniola should be arrested until he gives “full custody of the subject (Anthena) to the respondent (Damilola).”
Eniola and Damilola dated during which the 25-year-old became pregnant and had the child and disagreement allegedly broke out between the duo and their families, resulting in a legal battle for the custody of the child.
Punch had reported that in September 2017, a Tinubu Magistrate’s Court gave an interim order which awarded the custody of the child to the mother.
While Eniola was given unrestricted access to the child, he was, however, asked to pick her every Friday and return her to the mother on Sunday.
The arrangement was said to have been running smoothly until May 18, 2018, when the father, in company with two policemen, allegedly took Athena from school and failed to return her to the mother.
The Falana & Falana Chambers had written a petition to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, accusing Eniola of abduction.
Mrs Funmi Falana, on behalf of her client, filed an ex parte application on May 25, 2018, seeking the release of the child to the mother.
She said Damilola had been traumatised by the incident, adding that she was afraid for the child’s safety.
The application was granted by a magistrate, Mrs M.R. Osho-Adebiyi, who ordered Eniola to produce the child.
He was further ordered to appear before the court to explain why he should not be charged for contempt of court.
However, Eniola’s lawyer, Victor Amalu, filed a motion on notice on August 7, 2018, praying for a stay of execution of the order.
Amalu also asked that the contempt of court application be set aside.
He said it was not right for orders to be given when Eniola was not represented to defend himself.
Eniola’s application was, however, countered by Falana, who said Eniola was taking the court for granted.
The chief magistrate, Elias, overruled Amalu’s objections, describing the “modus operandi” used by Eniola as “appalling.”
He said, “The applicant (Eniola) on May 18, 2018, in company with some armed mobile policemen, went to Athena’s school and forcefully took her away contrary to the order of court dated September 20, 2017, granting custody to the respondent and access every fortnight from Friday to Sunday to the applicant. As there is no order of court validating this act, it amounts to taking law into his own hand and this on its own attracts sanction which should be expected.
“As the best interest of the child shall be primary consideration, this honourable family court is satisfied with the applicant application….”
The chief magistrate, citing Section 64 of the Lagos State Child Right Law, 2007, gave full custody of the child to the mother till she was 18 years old.
He also gave Eniola “supervised” access to the child, adding that he could only see her every fortnight.
Elias advised the parents to take the child’s welfare seriously and put her development and progress first.
“The continuous refusal of the applicant to produce the subject in court amounts to contempt; bench warrant is accordingly ordered for any police officers to effect his arrest until he purges himself of contempt and gives full custody of the subject to the respondent,” he added.
When our correspondent reached out to Eniola for his reaction to the ruling, he asked for some time to call back.
A lawyer, who claimed to be representing him, Abimbola Eniola, sent our correspondent a Lagos State High Court bench ruling, dated August 17, 2018.
The document showed Eniola as the applicant, while the chief magistrate, Elias, and Damilola, were respondents.
The ruling, signed by Justice E.O. Ogundare, said Amalu’s prayers for stay of execution were meritorious.
It said, “This is an application by way of motion ex parte dated August 6, 2018, praying for the following reliefs.
“1. An order granting the applicant leave to apply for judicial review by way of an order of certiorari to remove the purpose of quashing (a) the ex parte order made on May 28, 2018 in suit no. FCL/10/2016 – Eniola Adenuga vs Damilola Oguns (b) the directive of the 1st respondent at the proceedings of July 25, 2018, directing the applicant to comply with the ex parte made on May 28, 2018, in neglect of an application dated July 5, 2018, seeking to set aside the ex parte order on grounds of nullity and irregularity.
“An order staying execution, further execution or action, enforcement or howsoever giving effect in any manner whatsoever to the ex parte order made on May 28, 2018 in suit no. FCL/10/2016 pending the hearing and determination of applicant’s instant application seeking judicial review of the orders and proceedings in this suit.
“An order staying further proceedings in suit no FCL/10/2016 pending the hearing and determination of the applicant’s pending application, dated and filed on July 5, 2018, seeking to set aside the ex parte order made in the suit on May 28, 2018.
“And for such further orders as this honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.”
Ogundare said after considering Amalu’s applications, facts, exhibits and arguments, the reliefs had merit and were granted.
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