Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Solomon Akiyesi et al - Lessons to Learn

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Solomon Akiyesi and his many wives. From L - R Ezinne, Lillian and Uloma

After reading yesterday that Solomon Akiyesi had a previous marriage, bringing the number of his church weddings to three, I gave up. I also thought that was the end, but the saga continues as the women have begun to trade "pity me" stories to bloggers. I do pity all three women, in the sense that they are victims of a scam artist, a philandering man who does not even have the common sense to know where to draw the line.

However, I wonder if anyone is seeing this drama as a teachable moment? It could even be worthy of a Law masters or PHD thesis. The question is how seriously do Nigerians take their marriages as a legal contract? Beyond the spiritual vows, and cheating/infidelity, do men and women understand that their marriage certificate is also a binding document that represents an oath to the state? Does the confusion stem from the fact that most of our marriages are two-tiered, the customary usually coming before the registry (church or court). Does repaying a woman's bride price nullify the legally registered marriage?

Let's use the Solomon-Ezinne-Lillian Akiyesi story as a case study.

Lilian met Solomon as a little and naïve girl in 2001. There was no one married to Solomon as at then. Down the line, Solomon got married to Ezinne who said she was pregnant as at then. Lilian moved on with her life. Years later, Solomon and his family came to ask for Lilian's hand in marriage claiming that their son was deceived into marriage as Ezinne was never pregnant and was infact confirmed in the hospital to have damaged her womb a long time ago. On investigation, Solomon's family said all rites have been retrieved and dissolved of the marriage which was based on deceit.

After some time, Lilian and Solomon got married. Ezinne has never called Lilian for a warning or otherwise. Never! But rather Lilian put a call to her when she suddenly heard Ezinne was claiming to still be married to Solomon. On that shock, Lilian had her lawyer call Ezinne...who asked Ezinne to come up with a certificate or evidence to show they have not been divorced so that Lilian can move on with her life. But Ezinne refused to show up, even after several calls.

Why does her lawyer need to call Ezinne for evidence that she and Solomon were still married? When there is a divorce, both parties are supposed to have documents to that effect. Or am I wrong? Lawyers please help us out. If I'm correct, it's a simple matter to ask Solomon back then for his own divorce certificate, she could have even had it framed and sent to the first wife as a gift in case she had forgotten or misplaced hers.

Now, it would be easy, as an unmmarried person, after all this palava to say, "I'll never touch a previously married or divorced person with a barge pole" but that would be too simplistic and make scammers like Solomon Akiyesi come up with even more cunning MOs.

Also, there are genuine people who may have divorced before but who are very willing and able to enter mutually respectful and honest relationships, where they are very informed and open about their past and how that may affect their present and future relationships. Closing the door on such people and ruling them out of your relationship possibilities would only be shortchanging yourself.

So what are the lessons?

1. Beware of men who cheat, if he is cheating on you before marriage, he will probably continue, and in extreme cases like Solomon Akiyesi's he could make you a co-defendant in a bigamy or divorce suit, worse, your case could become blog fodder.

2. If you're dating or engaged to someone who has been previously married or divorced, ask for the documents to back up the nullification.

3. Grow your self confidence, and do not take rubbish from just anyone. Sometimes, an ex is an ex for a reason. If we believe Lillian's story, Solomon left their relationship to marry someone he got pregnant, and yet when he returned, she took him back.

4. Be honest and straightforward in your own dealings. Do not double date and once your relationship is defined and exclusive, do not tolerate a man who does. Share as honestly and openly as you can about your past, and watch carefully that your partner does the same.

5. Marriage is a serious business, and I mean that literally. They are spiritual, but they are also grounded legally. You and your partner need to educate yourselves on what the contract comes with in the state/country in which you live.

6. When you're saying no divorce, make sure you and your fiance/husband are on the same page. Does your no divorce allow him to marry other women via traditional rites, or even in a church? I didn't think so :)

My people, abeg add your own lessons. I have lol, rme, smh, and all the other fun stuff on this story. But I'm wondering, will there be another, "wait, there's more"?


  1. Infact Myne,am waiting to see where this will all end. You raise excellent points and i urge ladies to always double check.

  2. hmm i am getting tired of this story and yes women have to double check before they get into a relationship.

  3. Before this story came up,i would have said nothing like this can happen in Nigeria. Someone always knows some one that knows somebody!lol .

    1. You'll be surprised that a lot of of people do get married to others without divorcing their spouse. A friend did it, though he was separated from his first wife when he did the wedding with the second. Both weddings was conducted in the court.

  4. All you need is to go read the Marriage Act. There's no guessing game there. Only under customary law can a man marry more than one wife at the same time. The Marriage Act forbids anyone from mixing customary and civic (registry) marriages unless it is with the SAME WOMAN. That is, If you marry first under customary law, you may not marry SOMEONE ELSE under civic has to be the SAME WOMAN and vice versa. Otherwise, bigamy, bigamy, bigamy. As for the churches, the reputable ones ALWAYS want to see your registry marriage papers first and then they read banns for 4 weeks (Catholics) before they allow you to marry in their church.

    The Marriage Act prescribes a 5 year sentence for bigamy.

    Women, take note.

  5. @Anonymous 4:25, well said! I assume you are a lawyer like myself because you just spelled out the exact legal position.

  6. Our dear Lawyers and the Legal position in Nigeria? Some people even get married multiple times in court. The court simply ask you if you have been married before and you say no and the marriage goes on. No records even in this day and age. Trust me this guy is not going to spend a minuite in jail even if convicted. Worst case there will be a N5 (five naira) plea bargain. End of story. Ladies better do you home work before marrying any guy same goes for guys.

  7. if you are getting tired of the story, why even open the link and leave a comment? Odd.

    Thanks for shedding light on the legal matter that marriage is. Too many people forget that marriage is a legal entity.


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