Precious Chikwendu, estranged wife of former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has accused him of disobeying an order of court granting her access to their four children.
But Mr Fani-Kayode’s lawyer denied the allegation in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday.
Ms Chikwendu and Mr Fani-Kayode have been locked in a legal battle over the custody of their four sons since they split last year.
A Customary Court at Kubwa in Abuja, had on December 8, ordered Mr Fani-Kayode to allow Ms Chikwendu access to their four sons at a neutral ground during the Christmas and New Year periods.
“Both parties through there counsels are to agree on a date, time and place where petitioner can see her children, spend time with them and thereafter be returned to the respondent.
“This order subsist pending the determination of the suit,” A. M. Alkali, Chairman of the three-member panel of the Customary Court had ruled.
On the strength of the order, Ms Chikwendu’s lawyer, Emeka Uchegbulam, wrote a letter to Mr Fani-Kayode through his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, detailing the venue, dates and time of visitations to the children.
In the letter titled, ‘Request for Access to the Petitioner’s Four Male Children,’ Ms Chikwendu chose the Central Park in Abuja to meet with the children on Saturday, December 18, 2021, from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m.
Other days scheduled for the visitation are Saturday, January 1, 2022, New Year’s Day at same venue and time.
“We suggest that the petitioner (Ms Chikwendu) be allowed access to her children on Saturday, 25th day of December, 2021; Christmas Day as an alternative to the 1st day of January date, and Saturday, 9th January, 2022 same venue and time.
“Their Honours at the hearing of both counsels in open court ordered that the petitioner be granted access to her children during the festive period and that counsel should agree on the days, times and where the children would be brought for the petitioner to spend time with her children.
“Sequel to the said order, we have discussed with the petitioner, though she would have loved to see her children every day, but in fairness we hereby request the children be made available on the following three days, location and time,” the letter read.
It further explained that the choice of the Central Park as venue for the visitations was borne out of Ms Chikwendu’s alleged traumatic experiences at Mr Fani-Kayode’s residence, where the four children currently reside.
‘Children not found at meeting venue, contempt proceedings will commence’
At the time our correspondent visited the Central Park at 10.a.m. on Saturday, Ms Chikwendu and her lawyer, Emeka Uchegbulam, were seen waiting for the arrival of the children.
Mr Uchegbulam said the development was likely attributable to the reply letter by Mr Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, indicating that the former minister had filed an appeal with an application for a stay of execution of the order at the Customary Court of Appeal.
“A mere filing of an appeal does not constitute a stay of execution of a court order.
“We are going to start contempt proceedings against Mr Fani-Kayode,” Mr Uchegbulam threatened.
The lawyer noted that he was at the park to observe his client’s meeting with her children, after over a year since she was barred from seeing them by Mr Fani-Kayode.
Fani-Kayode’s lawyer speaks
The ex-minister’s lawyer, Mr Adedipe, denied the allegation that his client flouted the court’s order.
“The court does not have jurisdiction to issue the order. It has been her claim from the outset that they were never married and that our client never paid her bride price. But the customary court is not for boyfriend and girlfriend. So, the court does not have the jurisdiction to issue the order. We have filed an appeal against the order and we have filed for an order for stay of execution of the order,” Mr Adedipe said.
Asked if the appeal and application for stay of execution automatically operates as if the order for stay has been granted, the lawyer said, “We have a pending objection against the jurisdiction of the court which they have yet to respond to. The order was issued without jurisdiction, and we can’t be said to be flouting an order that was issued without jurisdiction. We have appealed against it and applied for a stay of its execution.”
“As a matter of fact, we have always maintained that she has access to her children anytime she wants to see them at our client’s home,” he added.
In his notice of appeal dated December 17, 2021, Mr Fani-Kayode said the Customary Court erred in law when it denied him a “right to fair hearing and thereby acted without jurisdiction.”
The customary court erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice, when it proceeded to make orders with far-reaching implications, despite the fact that it lacks jurisdiction.”
The apllication filed by Mr Fani-Kayode’s lawyer along with the notice of appeal seeks, “An order of injunction to restrain the petitioner or her agents from executing, implementing or taking any benefit from the decision and orders made by this court on December 8, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal lodged by the applicant (Mr Fani-Kayode), to the Customary Court of Appeal.”
Ms Chikwendu has levelled series of allegations against Mr Fani-Kayode in series of filings in the suit which she had instituted to obtain an order to compel her ex-husband to yield custody of their children to her.
Her lawyers alleged in one of her filings at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, that Mr Fani-Kayode “beat her up on several occasions even while she was pregnant.”
In an aspect of a case that was pending at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, she accused Mr Fani-Kayode of lacking the capacity to look after the children, and expressed worries that the former minister was entrusting the boys in the care of nannies and his girlfriends.
Mr Fani-Kayode has denied his ex-wife’s allegations.
As of the time of filing this report, Mr Fani-Kayode had yet to present the children for a meeting with their mother as ordered by the court.
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