Bankole Ogunnowo, a 41-year-old Nigerian, resident in the United Kingdom has narrated how he suffered ‘malicious charges and extortion’ in the hands of the Nigerian police on marital issues between him and his British ex-wife.
Mr Ogunnowo, who married his ex-wife, Eileen Odumosu at the Ikeja Marriage Registry in February 2012 explained how altercations occurred between him and his wife which led to several court cases in the UK.
Unable to obtain a favourable court judgement in the Uk, Mrs Odumosu made complaints against Mr Ogunnowo to the Nigerian police.
Mrs Odumosu is a British of Nigerian extraction, and a filmmaker based in the UK.
In copies of the statement obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mrs Odumosu accused Mr Ogunnowo of deceitfully marrying her so he could obtain a visa to go to the UK and domestic violence and abuse.
Based on her statement, the Nigerian police levelled an eight-count-charge against Mr Ogunnowo on fraudulently contracted marriage with the intent to deceive, the swearing of a false affidavit, among others.
The police thereafter obtained court approval to extradite him from the UK with offence of threat to life, falsification of documents and impersonation.
Narrating his ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ogunnowo said the Nigerian police made no investigation but acted based on the complaints of his estranged wife.
“The Nigerian police did not carry out any investigation, the next thing was I was notified of the extradition request in The UK court. They didn’t bother to call me or hear from me, there were court cases between me and my ex-wife that were thrown out of the UK court.
“I do not live in Nigeria and I have not committed any offence against Nigeria state. I now wonder how a matter between me and my ex-wife that we both live in the UK become a matter against Nigeria Government or the Police,” Mr Ogunnowo said.
Mr Ogunnowo explained that he is a UK based entrepreneur with no criminal records in Nigeria or the UK. “I have a legitimate job in the UK well known to the UK authority and Nigeria High Commission in the UK,” he said.
The drama between the estranged couple began in 2017 when Ms Odumosu approached a family court in the UK to level several charges against Mr Ogunnowo.
Part of the charges was that he did genital mutilation for the child he had with his ex-wife in Nigeria, Mercy Adetokunbo, and that his ex-wife had been impersonating her in Nigeria.
The allegations against Mr Ogunnowo by Ms Odumosu had been struck out in a family court in the UK for lacking merit.
PREMIUM TIMES could not get a copy of the family court judgement as it is against the laws of the UK to publish materials from a family court without obtaining approval from the judge.
“The issues with my ex-wife started when her mother started interfering in our marriage. It got to a time when my mother-in-law approached my employer to make a request that my salary be paid into her account. I refused and this resulted in frequent issues in the house.”
As a result of incessant domestic disputes, Mr Ogunnowo UK was removed from their shared apartment in 2013 by the police, he said.
“Since then, my estranged wife and her mother have vowed to get me deported back to Nigeria, send me to prison, or have me killed. They have backed their threat with action by coming up with spurious, baseless, and malicious allegation of crime against me here in the UK. The allegations were duly investigated by both the UK Police and family court and I was found not culpable.”
Mr Ogunnowo further explained that after their failure to nail him in the UK, his estranged wife and her mother approached the Nigerian police to allege that he forged papers to secure a visa and also forged the birth certificate of his daughter in order to secure a visa for her.
“She also said I belong to an evil gang in Nigeria, all these were what she presented against me in the UK. The UK government investigated and saw that the allegations were baseless.
“The British police reprimanded her twice and the court later gave a restraining order. I have not been in touch with her whatsoever, neither is she allowed to contact me,” he narrated.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mrs Odumosu about the matter, she refused to confirm her identity, claiming that there is no such person with the name (Eileen Adetokunbo) as contained in the statement she wrote to the Nigerian Police.
“If this is a hoax or my estranged husband is trying to start indirectly harassing me again with him having a warning. I will inform the police,” she later responded in a WhatsApp chat.
Mrs Odumosu did not reply to all questions asked about her statement to the Nigerian Police and what transpired between her and her estranged husband. Her number has since then been unreachable.
Mr Ogunnowo Recounts Experience with the Nigerian Police
Mr Ogunnowo, said he has been a victim of harassment, extortion and abuse of human rights in the hands of the Nigerian police.
In a petition submitted to the Inspector-General of Police in 2019, he complained about conspiracy, malicious prosecution, official misconduct, abuse of office and breach of his fundamental human rights by the Nigerian police.
Mr Ogunnowo alleged that following the complaint by Ms Odumosu, a charge was filed against him at the Federal High Court in Abuja which he was unaware of until his extradition papers were sent to the UK.
“My vindictive wife was able to buy the Nigerian police. It is disheartening to see how the police handled the matter without hearing my side of the story. The claimed police investigation was concluded and the extradition process without even investigating me.
“The complainant does not even have a Nigerian passport, not a Nigerian, she does not live in Nigeria or ever went to Nigeria to write a statement at any police station in Nigeria. But the police took sides, after collecting money from her.”
Mr Ogunnowo said the same officers who facilitated the charges against him after have since been exhorting him.
“They collected over N1 million from me to facilitate the withdrawal of the charges against me,” he said.
Mr Ogunnowo shared a proof of different payments made to one Olanrewaju Lawal, a police officer at the Interpol office in Abuja, who he said facilitated the extradition and assured to see to the withdrawal of the charges.
UK court throws out extradition request
The request to extradite Mr Ogunnowo by the Nigerian government was dismissed at the Westminister Magistrate Court, London, for lacking merits needed for extradition.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the judgment delivered by the District Judge (Magistrates’ Court), Michael Fanning, where he discharged the Requested Person (Mr Ogunnowo) on the grounds of “inadequate particularization” and “inherently weak case.”
The court findings state that the complainant’s statement was written in the Nigerian Police Pro-forma style and was written by the complainant herself without being physically present in Nigeria.
“I strongly suspect she did that herself, in London. I am certainly no sure to the contrary. On this basis alone, I am compelled to order RP’s discharged under s.84(5),” the judge said while also making stating that the same allegations against Mr Ogunnowo had been dismissed by a UK family court.
According to the judge, the request to extradite Mr Ogunnowo appears to be only the second of such requests made of the UK by Nigeria and there are no established bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UK in respect of extradition.
The court noted that Mr Ogunnowo had gone to the police prior to the allegation being made, warning them that his estranged wife had threatened to make a malicious allegation against him.
“In short, if he is extradited on what appears to be an inherently weak case, and faces potentially lengthy (and arbitrarily so) pre-trial detention in prison conditions that are wholly inadequate, that must amount to an impermissible interference with the Article 8 rights of RP and his family,” the judge said.
It was on this basis that the court concluded that there was no extradition offence and discharged Mr Ogunnowo.
Nigerian Police React
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Olanrewaju Lawal, an inspector of police at Interpol, he said there was an ongoing process to withdraw the case.
“We are Interpol, it was the General Investigations (GI) in Lagos that investigated the matter. They only sent the request for extradition to us. Now that he requested a withdrawal, we have sent our report to GI.”
“It is for GI to write to us, if they write to us, we will write to the Ministry of Justice that they should withdraw the charges and extradition,” he said.
Mr Lawal declined comments when asked if he received about N1 million from Mr Ogunnowo and why he did so.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Markus Basiran, the head of the Police Compliance Unit, he said a report had been submitted to the Inspector General of Police (IG) on the matter and comments should be sought from the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba.
“My report directly reports to the IG. I have sent my report to the IG’s office, the IG will look at it and give a directive on that before it goes public. If there are inconsistencies or mistakes, administrative or otherwise, they will be the ones to vet it and determine when it goes public.”
When asked whether there will be a withdrawal of the charges and extradition of Mr Ogunnowo, Mr Lawal said he can only make recommendations and it is the prerogative of the inspector-general of police to determine the outcome. He refused to disclose what his recommendations were.
All efforts to reach Mr Mba on the case, as well as how and why the police filed such criminal charges against Mr Ogunnowo without adequate investigation were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls and text messages to his phone.
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