Date Published: 02/10/11
Wednesday, 09 February, 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
A Statement by Respect Nigerians Coalition (RNC) on the Case between Edirin Onojeta-Idogun (By his next friend, Anne-Marie Hutchinson) and (1) Lydia Erhire (2) Ese Onojeta-Idogun (3) John Idogun in the High Court of Justice (Family Division) – Case No: FD10P01834
We represent the interest of Nigerians in the United Kingdom and all over the world who are concerned about the dimensions the above case is taking following Honourable Mrs Justice Julia Wendy Macur’s warning handed out during the hearing of the case on Thursday 03 February, 2011 in London to the effect that she would be sending Ms Lydia Erhire to prison if she and her family fail to produce her son, the 17-year old boy, Edirin Onojeta-Idogun who is at the centre of the claims being made at court. We are concerned that in the course of the British press reporting copiously on this matter, truth, reason, decency, parental right of control over a minor and indeed, applicable Nigerian laws and processes have become casualties. We are worried that Ms Erhire is now a victim of judicial terrorism for doing what any decent parent would have done in the circumstances of her case.
In one of the numerous attempts to make truth a casualty in this and other on-going legal proceedings, Anne-Marie Hutchinson of Dawson Cornell Solicitors, London, instructing the Chambers of Messrs C. N. Ajie & Co, a Nigeria-based law firm has sworn to Affidavits totally at variance with basic facts. For instance, in a case brought by Edirin’s father, Mr John Idogun in the High Court in Sapele, Nigeria, Mr Christopher Williams of C.N. Ajie & Co, acting on behalf of Anne-Marie Hutchinson, made claims in a Counter Affidavit to the effect that “Master Edirin Onojeta-Idogun was born in the UK on 10 th of March 1993”. This claim has been variously repeated by Carol Ajie herself and Ms Anne-Marie Hutchinson. Clearly, this is not true as Edirin Onojeta-Idogun was actually born on that date at the Surulere Medical Centre, Lagos, Nigeria which was the staff clinic being used by the Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria with whom the mother, Lydia Erhire was employed at the time. Master Edirin Onojeta-Idogun is therefore a Nigeria holding a Nigerian passport, not British.
Today, the story being bandied in court and the British press is that Edirin Onojeta-Idogun was abducted to Nigeria where he is being forced into marriage contrary to a UK law, the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection Act) 2007, which was enacted in response to increased cases of young Asian girls in Britain being forced into marriages. The law, which has effect only in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is aimed at providing civil remedies to victims of such marriages or those threatened with such marriages. But the facts of Edirin’s case aren’t that dramatic. Nigeria does not have a culture of that nature where boys or men are forced into marriage. Mr John Idogun and Ms Lydia Erhire are well educated and enlightened Urhobo parents and there is no precedence of any Urhobo man marrying at 17! Indeed, there is nothing in Urhobo or Nigerian culture that supports forced marriage! Edirin is still being waited on hand and foot by the parents, spoilt and loved like any other kid of his age and marriage is the furthest thing on the parents’ minds!
Indeed, the parents’ core concerns were that Edirin’s grades in school in the UK were failing because he had gotten entangled in drugs and gangs and was presenting the parents with serious control problems. He refused to go to school and on the occasions he attended, he would be very late, getting involved in all sorts of scrapes. The mother had to attend several meetings with the school authorities at Canon Palmer Catholic School, Ilford, Essex to discuss his behaviour and poor grades. He was constantly returning home after 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and would refuse to say what he’d been up to, threatening harm if further challenged. He’d return home sometime with blood on his clothes, his lips cut or swollen, his eyes partly shut, bumps on his head, scars all over and so on. The mother would ask if he’d been attacked or being in a fight, he’d grunt a response and clam up. And while out, he’d switch off his phone just to ensure no one can reach him.
Ms Lydia Erhire and his dad, Mr John Idogun considered their options and decided that a new environment where he would concentrate on his studies and reform his behaviour would do him good. They also obviously have behind their minds the fact that gang and knife crime issues have culminated in the death of a number of young black boys and girls in London in recent years. They therefore resolved to take him to Nigeria where he would be enrolled in school to do his A Levels under the guardianship of Mrs Elizabeth Idama, the maternal aunt based in Lagos, Nigeria and the dad who is based in Asaba, Nigeria. This idea was proposed to Edirin who agreed and arrangements were made to travel to Nigeria on 14 th July, 2010 so as to get there in time to make preparations for him to be admitted into Lifeforte International High School in Ibadan, Nigeria before the resumption of the school year in September, 2010. The school is a highly reputable institution for privileged children and a lot of Nigerians living in the United Kingdom send their children there. Edirin Onojeta-Idogun travelled down to Nigeria with the mother and sister, Ese Onojeta-Idogun for this purpose and all arrangements were duly made and he was enrolled in the school as planned.
On 4 August, 2010, Edirin’s older sister 19-year old Ese returned to the UK from Nigeria to pursue her admission into university. But on 9 September, she was arrested and charged with child abduction and was appearing in court on that account until her mother returned from Nigeria in October, 2010. The latter was detained at Heathrow Airport on her return, her passport taken and was questioned about Edirin. She explained that the child is in school and tendered all the necessary evidence and information to that effect. She was charged with child abduction and for being part of a forced marriage arrangement. Later, they dropped the charge of child abduction and substituted it with one of contempt for failing to produce the child that is a ward of court. Ever since, Ms Lydia Erhire has been made to run the gauntlet of the British courts and on each appearance, she has been threatened with imprisonment if she fails to produce the child before the next hearing date. She reckons she must have been to court six or seven times before various judges and that each time she has been made to sign statements written for her by Ms Hutchinson’s law firm, Dawson Cornwell Solicitors purportedly indicating that she has given consent to Edirin’s school, his father, his maternal aunt and anyone they indicate is in a position to release Edirin to Mrs Caroline Ajie, their lawyer and agent in Nigeria for him to be brought back to the UK.
The basis of the court’s action was supposedly a Forced Marriage Protection Order issued by the family Division of the High Court on the 8 th of July, 2010 declaring that Edirin Onojeta-Idogun needs to be protected from forced marriage. It was granted upon hearing a representative of the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is a gay charity supporting young gay persons. Even though Edirin is not gay, he was said to have spoken to them about a plan to force him into marriage and this became the basis of this Order. The mother was unaware of this and was unaware that a Forced Marriage Protection Order has been issued before she and Edirin left Nigeria, nor was she aware of any ongoing proceedings to that effect. Indeed, the letter conveying the Order of the court was addressed to and sent to a wrong address. Edirin himself claims he was not aware court proceedings were ongoing or that an Order was to be issued. Yet, it is on that basis of this Order that Ms Lydia Erhire is now being prosecuted.
In the meantime, there have been legal proceedings in Nigeria relating to the case. Following the letters written entirely by Dawson and Cornwell Solicitors and which Lydia Erhire was continually forced to sign (under the threat of imprisonment), purportedly giving authority to the school, Lifeforte International High School, to the maternal aunt, Mrs Elizabeth Idama and to John Idogun to hand over the son to their agent in Nigeria, Carol Ajie, Mr John Idogun, Edirin’s father took some legal action. This is because the letters and statements Lydia Erhire was being forced to sign under threat of imprisonment were purportedly declaring that Mr John Idogun had no right to custody of the child. Mr Idogun therefore instituted a suit against Lydia Erhire and Elizabeth Idama and Anne-Marie Hutchinson who through her lawyer in Nigeria, Caroline Ajie sought to be joined as 3 rd defendant/respondent. On 10 th December, 2010, an Order of Interim Injunction was granted by His Lordship, Honourable G.B. Briki-Okolosi restraining Lydia Erhire and Elizabeth Idama, their agents, privies, servants and labourers from repatriating the said Edirin Onojeta-Idogun to London. Another Order was granted restraining Idama from releasing Edirin’s international passport to him or anyone and another to give the father temporary custody to allow Edirin to spend the Christmas holiday with him. That case (SUIT NO. S/53/2010/M3) has been adjourned to the 2 nd of March 2011.
Meanwhile, after attempts by Carol Ajie to force Lifeforte International High School to hand over Edirin, the school in a letter dated 17 th of November, 2010 informed Honourable Mr Justice Moylan that (1) the school stands in loco parentis to Edirin who is a minor since both parents transferred custody to them (2) that any transfer of Edurin to any other third party without the consent of both parents would be a breach of contract and a breach of security and (3) that the school will not release Edirin to a third party without the mother’s consent and an order of Nigerian court directing such.
After various attempts to bully Edirin’s school into handing him over without success, Carol Ajie, Anne Hutchinson’s lawyer and agent on Monday, 6 th of December 2010 wrote the school attaching an Order she said had been granted by Justice Ibrahim Auta of the Federal High Court Abuja based on an ex-parte motion she brought on behalf of Edirin Onojeta-Idogun against his school Lifeforte International High School, Mrs Sarah Olubi-Johnson, the Chief Executive Officer of the school and Mrs Durotoluwa Sokoya, a staff of the school (SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/799/2010). The Order purportedly granted leave to the Applicant for “the Registration of the Orders of the Royal Courts of Justice made by the Honourable Mr Justice Moylan of 11 th November, 2010 and the Honourable Mrs Justice Theis of 18 th November, 2010 in re: Suit No FD10P01834 Edirin Onojeta-Idogun (By next friend Anne-Marie Hutchinson) vs. Lydia Erhire and Others”. The Order also granted the Applicant “leave to enforce the said Registered Orders of Court forthwith and certainly by the 8 th December, 2010 when the committal proceedings against Lydia Erhire in re: Suit No FD10P01834 Edirin Onojeta-Idogun (by his next friend, Anne-Marie Hutchinson) vs. Lydia Erhire will be taken and determined by Theis J., of the High Court of England and Wales”. The Order finally stated that “the Respondents are directed to attend this Court on the next adjourned date, in company of Master Edirin Onojeta-Idogun, a Ward of the High Court of England and Wales, who is unlawfully being detained by the Respondents, and to release him forthwith to the Applicant’s Solicitor, Dame Carol Ajie for the purpose of returning him to the United Kingdom.” After the hearing of 13 th December, 2010 when the school challenged the Order, the case was adjourned to 10 th of February, 2010 and all parties were asked to maintain the status quo ante.
It is important at this juncture to analyse the Justice Auta Order and its effect on the situation. From the day he was used by the dictator General Sani Abacha to sentence the famous Ogoni writer and environmentalist Ken-Saro-Wiwa and eight of his compatriots to death in 1995, Ibrahim Auta’s name has become synonymous with infamy. Till date, he remains one of the most controversial judges on the Nigerian bench, representing the worst in that institution. His decision to register the British Court Order via an ex-parte motion is judicial impunity of the highest order. Or would any English court register a foreign judgment without granting the defendant(s) the opportunity to defend the proceedings or argue the substantive merit of their case? Would they have registered an Order of a Nigerian court declaring a British citizen a ward of court in Nigeria if such a citizen is in the United Kingdom without hearing from the defendants supposedly holding such person against his or her will? Is there a precedence of the type of registration Auta has done in English law?
At any rate, quite apart from the clear contradiction on the face of his Order directing enforcement “forthwith” on one hand while requiring respondents to produce the boy at the next hearing on the other, the most important thing is that the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1961 which he purportedly relied on does not apply. Fact is while the law makes provision for the enforcement of certain foreign judgments or arbitral awards in Nigeria for the payment of money, nothing in the Act allows for the registration and enforcement of orders made in wardship or other proceedings for the custody or the welfare of the child. Thus, what he has done is clear abuse of judicial powers and does play into the hands of those who think that in Nigeria what we have is a Mickey Mouse judicial system where anything goes! The judicial decision is a deliberative process and a judicial order of this nature made without hearing the parties against whom it is sought and without giving them notice is nothing short of scandalous. Orders of this type have to be considered on the balance of convenience of all parties and the party seeking them ought to be asked to provide compensatory undertakings in case the Order turns out to be unfounded or more injurious to other parties than justified by the facts. The fact that Auta can casually dismiss the potential right of the child to remain in his country having committed no offence or the right of his parents and his school to bring him up lawfully in the way and manner they choose says a lot about him. Respect Nigerians Coalition (RNC) shall be reporting Justice Auta to the National Judicial Council for this clear case of abuse of judicial powers. He has no respect for Nigerians and he has no respect for our laws.
It is also crucial to consider the argument put forward by Carol Ajie, Ms Anne-Marie Hutchinson’s lawyer and agent in Nigeria that Mr Idogun has no custody right over the child, because sections 71 and 72 of the Matrimonial Causes Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria only make this right available to married couples. This is diversionary. The relevant law in this case is Section 24 of the Infant Law, Cap 49 of the Laws of Western Nigeria 1959. This law applies to Delta State where Mr Idogun has instituted his action and Oyo State where the son is schooling. The law provides that “….in any proceedings before any court in which the custody or upbringing of a child….is in question, the court in deciding that question, shall regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration, and shall not take into consideration whether from any other point of view the claim of the father, or any right at common law possessed by the father, in respect of such custody….is superior to that of the mother, or the claim of the mother is superior to that of the father”. This law applies in any proceedings relating to the custody or upbringing of the child and it does not matter whether the parents of the child are married to each other.
Now, we come to the most critical part of this story, which is what happened in Nigeria between Sunday, the 30 th of January, 2011 and Tuesday, 1 st of February, 2011 and the reaction of the British court to this development. On Sunday, 30 th of January, 2011 Carol Ajie and her agents purportedly pursuant to an order by Justice Auta of the Federal High Court Abuja went surreptitiously to Lifeforte International High School to lure Master Edirin Onojeta-Idogun away, having secretly obtained some temporary travel papers for him from the British High Commission. They took him to Abuja en-route to the United Kingdom. Master Edirin Onojeta-Idogun was cajoled into believing that he was being taken to the United Kingdom to be granted UK citizenship and made a celebrity. They crafted for him a story in line with their design and made sure he made no contact with anyone. The school authorities were unaware of this as the children were in church from where Master Edirin Onojeta-Idogun was spirited away by Carol Ajie and her gang. The school began a frantic search for him and called the father who also became worried. They continued the search and through GPS technology were able to locate him in Abuja. But the boy would not pick up his phone as it was in the hands of his captors. When he eventually was made to answer his father’s frantic call, they told him to tell his father that he was with a friend in Benin City, the idea being to divert the father that way while they put his son on a flight to England from Abuja. But the father wised up to that and headed straight to Abuja on Tuesday morning where coincidentally he met his son trying to board at the British Airways counter at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. He called his son who came to him and told the immigration his story. He told them Edirin Onojeta-Idogun is his son and that he was not scheduled to travel. The son confirmed this and the immigration officers let them leave together.
Shortly after, Carol Ajie called a press conference where she made the following statement:
“At about 8:00am today Tuesday 1st Feb., 2011, Edirin Onojeta- Idogun born in England on the 10th March 1993 was with valid travel documents, was arrested and detained by the Nigeria Immigration Officers who gave no reason for his arrest and detention at the Abuja International airport. He was at the immigration desk after the British Airways had checked him in and approved all his valid travel documents when the immigration officers violated his fundamental rights to movement and personal liberty in contravention of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Edirin Onojeta-Idogun is a ward of the High Court of England and Wales by virtue of two court orders issued by Justices Moylan on 11 Nov., 2010 and Justice Theis on 18 Nov., 2010 before his rights were taken by the Nigerian Immigration service without any legal excuse today on his way back to the UK. At the time of writing this statement 5:30PM , he has still been held at the Immigration Headquarters in Abuja against his will and being forced to sign documents not to travel now”.
Obviously, she was trying to make out this was a human rights issue, painting the picture of state officials unlawfully stopping a British citizen from travelling and forcing him to sign documents not to travel. Of course, the boy is not a British citizen and there are pending cases in court over his matter and he was not made to sign anything. She totally sanitized her criminal action of kidnapping the boy against Nigerian law and all laws of decency, blurring the line between representing the best interest of her clients and outright criminality!
However, rather than this act of criminality to be questioned by the English court, it became a reason for them to open the gates of hell on Ms Lydia Erhire who appeared in the court on Thursday, 3 rd of February, 2011 before Honourable Mrs Justice Julia Wendy Macur. The Judge laid into her ferociously and warned that if she and her relatives in Nigeria did not co-operate to allow her son to return to London by the 14 th of February 2011, which is the next hearing date, she would be immediately sending the mother of two to jail “for months”. Mrs Justice Macur said she believes the boy is “in grave danger” and claimed Lydia Erhire’s breaches of the order were “flagrant, deliberate and defiant”. “I can’t accept what this lady says”, she said. “She has lied. She has shown every indication of having no desire to assist the court. I will send her to prison if she does not co-operate and it will not be a sentence of weeks”. When Saiful Islam, counsel representing Ms Erhire, said she’d be doing everything within her power to get the boy back, Justice Macur went on in righteous indignation: “ Her son at the moment is effectively marooned in Nigeria, having being arrested from a plane, sitting on the runway. If that is not sufficient for a mother to act, then, with respect, it calls to question her maternal instincts”.
Of course, the boy was not arrested; he was given to his dad and he wasn’t in any plane on the runway, because even Carol Ajie’s statement indicated he was at the immigration desk when he was stopped. But, we are not surprised, because it is in the nature of those who want to paint our country black to give the impression that it is a jungle where immigration people arrest innocent kids in a plane on the runway!
Yet, what has been happening to Lydia Erhire since the conclusion of that hearing would indicate that the judiciary in this case has turned Britain into a police state. Immediately after the hearing, Dawson Cornwell Solicitors wrote BH Solicitors representing Ms Lydia Erhire in a letter titled “URGENT” thus:
Our client: Edirin Onojeta-Idogun
Your client: Lydia Erhire
We refer to the above matter.
We would confirm that we have attended today in the High Court. Please note that the Judge has ordered that there be a bench warrant in respect of your client. The Judge has also directed that unless the letters and documents are signed at your offices before 5.30pm today and produced to us, that the Tipstaff shall execute the bench warrant and that your client will be arrested and held in custody.
Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.
The letters attached for Lydia Erhire’s signatures were letters addressed to The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Interior, Old Secretariat, Area 1, Garki, Abuja; the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Federal Ministry of Justice, Shehu Sharagi Way, Abuja, Nigeria and the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Services, Airport Road, Abuja, Nigeria.
The content of this letter to go to all the above was entirely written by Dawson Cornwell Solicitors and sent to BH Solicitors for Lydia Erhire’s signature. Below is the content:
4 February 2011
Dear Honourable Sir
Edirin Onojeta-Idogun (D.O.B. 10.03.93)
I am Lydia Erhire and I am the mother of the above named child.
Edirin normally lives with me and is habitually resident in the jurisdiction of England and Wales where he was attending school and where his school place remains open.
I seek his urgent return to my care and his urgent return to England where hr lives. His father is John Idogun. At no time was I married to John Idogun and it has been as a matter of the law of England and Wales the said John Idogun has no right of custody or parental rights over him. Indeed I am the only person who has parental rights in respect of my child. As a matter of Nigerian law I was at no time married to John Idogun his father. I am the sole holder of parental responsibility and parental rights.
On Tuesday 1 st February 2011 arrangements were made for Edirin Onojeta-Idogun to fly to England by way of British Airways flight from Abuja airport. After passing immigration control Edirin was intercepted and his travel documents and tickets were impounded. He was held at Abuja airport by immigration officers for travelling unaccompanied and under age. Edirin’s solicitor and next friend in England Miss Anne-Marie Hutchinson of Dawson Cornwell Solicitors appointed an agent being Carol Ajie of C.N. Ajie & Co Legal Practitioners, Office Suit 332, 3 rd Floor, Transcorp, Hilton, Maitama-Abuja to make representation. We understand that that firm have written to you seeking your assistance to resolve this issue. My understanding is that it is perfectly legal for children over the age of 16 years to travel unaccompanied from Nigeria and that my son should not have been prevented from travelling to England and his tickets and travel documents should not have been impounded and removed from him.
I seek your good offices to cause my son’s immediate release so that he can return to England and commence his education as a matter of urgency.
Throughout the day, Dawson Cornwell Solicitors through faxed letters kept putting the pressure on BH Solicitors asking if Ms Erhire had arrived to sign the documents while BH Solicitors waited. Eventually, she got to her Solicitors’ office and was presented with the document to sign. She agonised over this till late in the night, pointing out that they have made her sign several of this type of stuff to the boy’s school in Nigeria, to his maternal aunt and to his father, but that she is a Christian and would no longer lie! The Solicitors explained that if she doesn’t sign this, she would be arrested and taken into custody. She thought about it and told his solicitors that she would use the weekend to think more about it, but that at that point, she wouldn’t sign. She left without signing.
The next morning, Saturday, the 5 th of February, while she was out, the police visited her place of abode and accosted the couple she was staying with, asking for her whereabouts. The couple had no idea. They asked for the lady’s passport. The lady, Mrs Martha Otomewo presented it to them. Apparently, they wanted to be sure she is not Ms Erhire. They checked the room she was occupying in the house and after sometime, left. They returned to the house twice on Sunday after to check if she was back. By Monday, they served Mrs Otomewo an order to appear at the High Court on Tuesday, 08 February 2011 to explain the whereabouts of Lydia Erhire and also served her solicitors the same. They obviously want to effect her arrest as threatened in their letter for refusal to sign to a lie!
For us, this is the worst exhibition of British justice. The point here is that if those purportedly representing Edirin’s interest in the United Kingdom and Nigeria feel that they have fulfilled all legal requirements to bring him from Nigeria, why did they have to go abduct the boy from the school church and attempt to take him surreptitiously out of the country? If indeed they feel that the order of Justice Auta of the Federal High Court is valid and enforceable and that Mr Idogun is in breach by coming to the airport to stop his son from being taken way, why are they not out there in Nigeria trying to hold Mr Idogun to account for his actions, rather than use this medieval judicial means to terrorise Ms Erhire into signing all sorts of documents they have prepared purportedly giving away her right to her child? Why do they think that a forced proclamation in their own hand forcibly signed by Lydia Erhire under the threat of imprisonment is conclusive of who has a right over custody of the child when judicial proceedings are on in Nigeria (with none in the UK on that matter) and yet to be determined? Why are they now attempting to force the poor woman to sign letters to the Controller-General of Immigration, Minister of Interior and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice asking for him to be returned to the UK when she was no party to him being stopped from returning in the first place? Why is the court continuing to threaten her with imprisonment when up till now she has signed everything they have put before her purportedly giving them power to go take her son under duress and continued threat of imprisonment?
It is curious why the British court would declare Edirin Onojeta-Idogun, a Nigerian citizen a ward of court on 10 th November, 2010, when the facts before it has materially contradicted the story originally presented by the representative of the Albert Kennedy Trust, which led to the grant of the 8 th of July 2010 Forced Marriage Protection Order. At that time, the story that he was being tortured in Nigeria, being held against his will, being forced into marriage, exorcism and all that had been found to be untrue. What the court was presented with as facts were that he was in one of the best schools in the country where he’s engaged in full education, where he had made new friends, improved dramatically his attitude and academic results and is happy to be there. In fact, he personally wrote Anne-Marie Hutchinson in his own hand a number of times before then asking her not to represent him anymore. For instance, in a letter dated 23/10/2010, he wrote:
“Dear Ms Anne-Marie Hutchinson,
Following the last discussion I had with Mr Michael Nastari who is the Young Person Network Co-ordinator for the Albert Kennedy Trust, may I kindly request you to discontinue the matter in case no:FD10P01834 or any other matter. I have also written a statement of which a copy has been sent to you. Note that you, Ms Anne-Marie Hutchinson should cease to act for me in this matter or any other matter.
“I was shocked that you assumed the position of my next friend without my knowledge. Please, as you are aware, my mother is still alive and I trust her to take the best decision for me. That decision includes but not limited to putting me in boarding school in Nigeria and there was no time she forced me into any marriage.
Please note that I have written this letter and the statement of my own free will.
I want to thank you for all you have done. Please ensure to pass this to the court and any interested party.”
There are other letters he wrote in his handwriting expressing his frustration as to why the case against his mum and sister is still going on, calling on them to stop sending tickets for him to travel to the UK, writing the Albert Kennedy Trust and even speaking to Mr Michael Nastari on the phone telling them not to represent him anymore, because he’s settled down in school and is happy there. All these and even video evidence of him stating all these were presented in court, but the court felt comfortable to reject them all under the notion that he couldn’t have been making these communications of his own free will! He even cried to his mum and naively told her to smuggle a phone into court in one of her appearances and give it to the judge so he can speak to the judge directly to let his mother go!
Respect Nigerians Coalition (RNC) calls on the proceedings against Ms Lydia Erhire to be discontinued forthwith and for her to be discharged and acquitted. This is an abuse of judicial power and it is certainly not what any court in the United Kingdom could have done against a British citizen. Lydia Erhire and the boy’s father should be allowed their fundamental right to freedom to bring up their child in whatever way they deem fit as far as this does not breach any law. Taking her child to school in Nigeria and putting him under the care of the school, her sister and his father is not unlawful. Those purportedly representing the interest of the boy in the UK have not showed that they are doing so validly. Merely jumping on the back of the Forced Marriage Act (which does not apply in anyway here and which does not have force of law in Nigeria) should not suddenly transform them into genuinely interested party and give them freedom of the court. Edirin has said Anne-Marie Hutchinson and the Albert Kennedy Trust do not represent him. If they insist they do, where is the evidence of Edirin’s instructions to them to that effect? Why is the court not accepting Edirin’s clear words that these people do not represent him? What faceless “youth group” did Edirin speak to and where is the evidence of all the claims they are making about forced marriage or him being held in captivity in Nigeria when it is evident that he is in one of the best schools in the country and well looked after by the school authorities, his father and other relations?
There is obviously an agenda here and that agenda includes the disparagement of the image of Nigeria and Nigerians. It’s gone on long enough! Our people are tired about the lies and stereotypical portrayal going on in the press and in the court. This must stop! Lydia Erhire is not a criminal! John Idogun is not a criminal and Edirin Onojeta-Idogun is not a criminal! They are a normal family trying to find answers to their problems and now that Edirin Onojeta-Idogun is in a good school doing well and out of gangs and harm’s way, the court should let him be! Again, we strongly urge the court to stop Lydia Erhire’s trial forthwith. But if it insists on continuing, then we must insist that they send her to jail immediately and let’s take it from there. This is because the constant threat of jail is making her lose her mind, just as the trauma they put her daughter through has given the poor girl a mental condition! Lydia Erhire’s health is failing dramatically now and she just cannot cope with the tension anymore. There should be no more threats of sending her to prison. If the court thinks it is the right thing to do based on the clear facts of this case, then let them send her there, rather than keep the threat on her head like the Sword of Damocles! And once they have made notorious history by making her the first person to be convicted in the United Kingdom for purportedly breaching the terms of the Forced Marriage Protection Order, let them be prepared to send hundreds of innocent Nigerians in along with her, because as long as the courts are being used to oppress foreigners in the United Kingdom, that will surely be the case.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. We leave you to deal with the facts as they are and not as the persecutors of this innocent woman would prefer them to be.
(For and on behalf of Respect Nigerians Coalition)