Mercy Adetokunbo Oluwaseyifunmi, residing in Ondo State, is clearly a tired and frustrated woman. She almost broke down in tears as she narrated the story that had become her life now for two years. According to Oluwaseyifunmi, she had been harassed, intimidated and extorted by policemen in Ondo State and the Force CID, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos State for two years now.
When asked her crime, the mother of three, sounding perplexed, said: “Police said that I’m bearing the same name with my former boyfriend’s estranged wife living in UK. I’m confused. Adetokunbo is the pet name my parents call me. I don’t understand how bearing the same name with another person can constitute a crime. This case had been on for long; I even had to sue the police for harassment case. The matter was finally settled by the former Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of General Investigation. I was asked to go. The DCP has now retired and policemen came back to arrest me, claiming I jumped bail.”
Mercy said that she met Bankole Oni Ogunowo some years back and they started dating. She got pregnant and later had a baby girl, Damilola. Later, Bankole left for UK. He and Mercy lost communication.
Mercy said: “After four years of not hearing from him, I decided to move on with my life. I went to tell Bankole’s mother. She told me that Bankole had married someone else in UK. I got married to Nicholas. Some years later, Bankole called me; he said he wanted to have access to his child. I didn’t stop him.”
Mercy, who had two children for her present husband, said that one day, Bankole called her saying he wouldn’t mind Damilola coming over to UK to join him. She didn’t demur.
She said: “Another day, Bankole called me; he asked if I did Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for Damilola, I said no. He said I should go to a court and swear an affidavit, showing that I’m Damilola’s mother and that I didn’t carry out FGM on her. I did. He asked for the documents, I sent them. Later, police came to arrest me. They said I lied in the affidavit I sworn. They also said my address was not traceable. They said one Oyebo swore a counter affidavit denouncing mine. He reported me to the police. That was how my troubles started. I have been dragged from Ondo State Police Command to Alagbon several times. I have repeatedly paid lump sums of money for bail and investigations. The least money I have paid was N20,000. They came last week Friday to arrest me again, claiming that I jumped bail. On Thursday, they took me to Igbosere Magistrate Court. The court remanded me for 20 days in police custody. I have a three-year-old child at home, asking for me and I’m here, being held for what I don’t understand.”
According to Bankole, the genesis of his trouble and that of Mercy started after he refused to yield to the demand of his estranged wife that he should pay a huge sum of money for her inviting him to the UK.
Bankole, said: “How can a man pay his own wife, who had a child for him, for inviting him to the UK? This matter had gone to court in the UK. I won the case. The court ruled that it was satisfied that money was the issue between my estranged wife and I. She was even issued with harassment warning in UK. She threatened to send me to prison. To make that threat real, she alleged that I performed FGM on my daughter Damilola, who resides in Nigeria.”
Bankole explained that it was based on that accusation that Mercy, on November 27, 2015, swore to an affidavit at the High Court, Ondo State.
Mercy equally stated that Damilola was never subjected to any FGM.
This affidavit was sent to Bankole in order to support his evidence in a law suit in the UK instituted by his estranged wife.
Bankole recounted: “We were shocked when we heard that there was another affidavit, which one Oyebo, working for my estranged wife, deposed to in the same High Court of Justice, Ondo State, stating that Mercy was an impostor and that her name was fictitious. The Oyebo equally stated that his findings showed that Mercy’s address, given in her affidavit, was untraceable, ambiguous and vague.
“Without properly investigating, the police at Yaba Division of Nigeria Police, Ondo issued Police Extract. A report was also issued by the Divisional Crime Officer, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Idowu Kehinde, to the effect that Mercy’s address was untraceable. The extract was sent to London Police.”
Mercy demanded that the police at the division retracted the report, but the Divisional Police Officer allegedly refused, even after the police traced Mercy to her doorstep by phone and verified from the houses around her residence.
Mercy told police that she needed to see Oyebo, but this was not done, even after she allegedly gave policemen money they demanded to track and trace his phone.
She explained that while police were seemingly trying to locate Oyebo, the man, in a bid to cover up his perjury, wrote another petition against her, insisting that she was threatening his life.
On June 28, 2016, Mercy was re-arrested by officers from Alagbon Close, Lagos, who claimed to be investigating the allegation against her as contained in the petition written by Oyebo, that the name on her affidavit was a forgery. Later, Mercy was told that the matter had been closed and resolved. She was told to go.
While Mercy was fighting unseen forces, who were allegedly using Oyebo and policemen to torment her, Bankole was battling his estranged wife in the UK. He said that on February 28, 2017, the court gave an injunction that he should be allowed to spend time with the child the woman had for him.
Bankole said: “My estranged wife had a child for me here in UK. She stopped me from seeing my child, so I went to court to apply for contact order. To stop me, she lied to the court that the child I had in Nigeria, Damilola, was subjected to FGM by me. She claimed to fear that I would kidnap my UK child from her and perform FGM on her. In view of this, Mercy sworn an affidavit to say that Damilola was not subjected to FGM. The case is now in my favour. She threatened to deal with Mercy, that was how Mercy got involved in our dirty fight.
“I got married to my estranged wife in 2012, which was after I moved to UK. She was the one that invited me to UK. Later, she wanted me to pay for her the invitation. I refused. That was what led to legal separation. I have often wondered how a person who resided in UK, would be using some men in NPF to harass Mercy who is in Nigeria, while my estranged wife had never bothered to go to Nigeria or present herself to the police. Policemen are just using Mercy to make money. They have turned her into an ATM. They arrest her at whim and would collect whooping sums of money for bail. I heard there’s a new DCP at Alagbon, but I know that the policemen handling the case wouldn’t give him the true fact of the case. The case, though bogus, is fetching these policemen money. My estranged wife is giving them money.”
The present DCP, Abutu Yaro, who said he was aware of the case, disclosed to our correspondent, the fact of the case. Yaro said: “We went to Ondo State to arrest the suspect for stealing and trafficking a child to the United Kingdom. She did it with a man in the UK, who had been charged to court over there. They trafficked a child from here under a false name. There is another woman in UK, who was married to the man. He is the man between these two women. The man is the husband of the two women. The suspect here assumed the name of the other woman in UK, so she and the man were able to move the child from here to UK. The woman in UK informed the London Police that a child had been smuggled from Nigerian into London, with her name, whereas she is not the mother of the child. She alleged that the suspect, who organised the process, is a resident in Nigeria. While the case is on, the British Police asked that the arrest and the judicial process from Nigeria police should be made known to them in order to complement or confirm her version being made in the British Court.
“We invited the suspect for questioning, to explain the process that took place before the child left. She confirmed that they made such arrangement to facilitate the exit of the child, which has now become a criminal situation there. We had to report her actions to the court. The court accepted our charge, that criminal conspiracy, forgery had been discharged. This is why she would be undergoing trial.
“Once we take someone to court, and there is a remand order established, the case is no longer in police hand or power. We expected her to use a good lawyer to vacate the remand court order around her, so that the court can allow her to go out because as it is now, police don’t have the power to grant bail. What she needs now is court bail, not police bail.”
Reacting on the matter, Nicholas said: “I don’t understand what is going on anymore. Let the police release my wife. She has three children, the first is 14 years, the second five years and the third is just three-year-old. The children have been asking for their mother, especially the three-year-old, I just don’t know what to tell them. When I asked police her offence, they said she jumped bail. All I know is that my wife’s first daughter, who is 14 years old, has a father called Bankole, living in London. He wanted to take his daughter to London. Something happened over there in London and they went to court to settle it. I don’t know why Nigerian Police are harassing my wife now. Personally, I think someone doesn’t want Bankole’s daughter to travel to London.”
Bankole added: “How come police accuse Mercy of child stealing and trafficking? She doesn’t even own a passport. And no child came to Nigeria to be with me. The only child with me is the one from my new wife; my wife is a British woman. If the police are saying Mercy stole and trafficked a child, they should tell us the child she trafficked. The DCP Abutu wanted to release Mercy, but he said he couldn’t because Interpol had taken over the case. How can Interpol get involved in domestic case that happened in UK?”