An Ibadan Customary Court has adjourned till October 15 a divorce case brought before it by a man, John Dickson, against his wife, Mary Dickson.
John, who dragged his wife to court, alleged that she deserted him three years ago, adding that she left with their two children.
The plaintiff implored the court to dissolve their marriage since Mary had frustrated every effort he made at getting them reconciled.
He further pleaded with the court to grant him custody of their two children in order that he might give them adequate attention.
Mary agreed to divorce but refused that the plaintiff be granted custody of their children.
John while giving his evidence told the court that:”My lord, my wife and I never quarreled or fought. I left home for work and by the time I returned she had packed her belongings and left with our two children.
“I didn’t send her out, but she left by her own volition. She moved out of my house after I took another wife.
“My lord, polygamy is a normal and acceptable practice in my village. My father had seven wives and they cohabited peacefully.
“My family members appealed to Mary on my behalf to return home but she remained adamant. Since I love her and our children dearly, I made it a habit to pay them a regular visit in her new apartment.
“Any time I was going, I would go with money and produce from my farm. I have never failed in paying their school fees and meeting all their other needs.
“My lord, despite all that I do, Mary has refused to change her mind, which is my reason for coming to court.
“She can walk out of our marriage, but she can’t walk out of it with our children. I pray the court to grant me custody of our two children, “John said.
“My mind is made up on divorcing John and there’s no going back on that, “Mary stated.
“John can be best described as an animal. I gave him my heart and my all. I stood by him and helped him to get on in life but he betrayed the trust I placed in him.
“My family members stood against our marriage but I insisted I was going to marry him. I did and moved in with him. I brought to live with us, Esther, my 12-year-old daughter who is one of the two children I had in my previous marriage.
“In order to make ends meet, I would leave home as early as 4:00 a.m. to purchase goods for sale. I normally leave our new born baby in the care of Esther and my husband.
“To my surprise, Esther suddenly took to running away from home, sometimes for about two weeks anytime I went to purchase my goods. I would bring her back home looking dirty and hungry after a search in the neighbourhood. I didn’t understand why she did this and she refused to tell me.
“My lord, it was her friend’s mother who let the cat out of the bag. She told me my husband defiled Esther and that she had been sleeping with her. According to her, Esther told her daughter who is her friend, who later told her. I didn’t believe all she told me but decided to ask Esther.
“When I inquired from Esther, she confessed my husband was in the habit of sleeping with her any time I was not at home and that he warned her never to tell me or anyone else. According to her, if she did he would stop funding my education and send me out of his house.
“I screamed after she told me all. I felt so anguished that I beat her. I was angry she kept such a thing from me. I took her to the hospital and it was confirmed that she was s*xually active.
“He would have raped my second daughter who is Esther’s sister also but for God. She was then seven years old,” the defendant explained.
“My lord, what John did is an abomination in our village. It is a taboo for a man to sleep with both mother and daughter, which explains my poor health condition right now. I’m dying by the day.
“I left John’s house with Esther and the two children I had for him and moved into a rented apartment in the neighbourhood.
“I later moved in with one of my aunties when I could no longer afford the rent.
“I informed my husband’s family of the atrocity he committed but they were indifferent. They only made an effort I regarded as insignificant in settling the issue and left it worse. John’s sister warned Esther never to tell anyone she was defiled and constantly raped by John, “Mary added.
“Since we moved out of the house he never cared about our children’s survival or welfare. I reared goats and sold to pay our children’s school fees.
“Since it was obvious we needed money to carry out a ritual in our village to aver tragedy due to the abomination my husband committed, I asked that he gave me a small portion on his land to plant crops which proceeds we could use for the ritual but he refused.
“My lord, John’s brother later came for my goats which were four in number. He claimed they belonged to John. I was furious when I was told this and went to his house with Esther to claim my goats but he and his family members beat us blue black.
“Again, my lord, John’s indecent act is presently affecting Esther. She got married two years ago and became pregnant but she lost this pregnancy and has not had another since then.
“My lord, what I pray this court is to mandate John to go with me and Esther to our village to carry out the necessary ritual so that we could live normal lives again,” she pleaded.
Esther Isaiah giving her evidence told the court that:”My lord, I started living with my mother and her new husband, that is my step father at the age of 12. My father lives in Lagos. I’m now 20 years old, but my step father started sleeping with me at the age of 12. He was the one who deflowered me and he slept with me on countless occasions. He always warned me not to tell anyone especially my mother. He threatened to stop paying my school fees if I ever did.
“He regularly used the opportunity of my mother’s absence to sleep with me. He got so reckless that he started sleeping with me on our farm, that is in the open.
“I was afraid of telling my mother and took to running away from home whenever she was not around because I was helpless.
“I summoned courage and opened up to my friend who told her mother. It was my friend’s mother who later informed my mother.
“My lord, he actually attempted to rape my seven-year-old sister also, who came to spend her holiday with us. She told me he crawled to where she laid, rubbed his hand over her private part and tried to remove her pant but she cried out.
“She told our mother this but she didn’t believe her because she was head over heels in love with him.
“I’m now married but have no child yet. I lost my first pregnancy and have not had another since then which is almost two years.
“According to my mother, this is as a result of the abomination committed by my step father,” Esther concluded.