Family tradition, assassination attempts, force couple to relocate abroad

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Family tradition, assassination attempts, force couple to relocate abroad

An investigative journalist, Olorunfemi Samson and family have fled to the United States of America to escape from archaic family tradition and intimidation in Nigeria.

In a signed petition to the Lagos State Police Command, a copy of which was made available to our reporter, Samson had raised the alarm that his father, one Mr. Tope Olorunfemi had made life unbearable for his wife, Oladunni for refusing to have their only daughter, Oyindamola circumcised and be ordained as ‘Yeye Osa’, head of family cult.

Samson, a trained investigative journalist with one of the mainstream media organizations based in Lagos also claimed in the petition that his life was in grave danger as a result of his insistence in publishing a report of investigation on corruption  involving a top politician and public servant in the state.

Trouble had began for the Olorunfemis with the arrival of their daughter, Oyindamola some few months after marriage.

The father-in-law, Mr. Tope Olorunfemi had insisted that the new baby would be circumcised amidst other rituals at the age of fifteen months in line with the family tradition. This was to prepare the little girl for the role of ‘Yeye Osa’, the head of the family cult .

The couple had vehemently opposed the idea and even pleaded with other members of the family to prevail on the father-in-law to jettison the archaic and barbaric proposition.

Sensing danger and the desperation of his father to have his way at all cost, Samson and his wife had lodged a formal complaint at the Nigeria Police Area ‘F’ Command at Igando. The police had however adjudged the case as a family matter which should be settled amicably in a family way.

Samson further alleged that “Undeterred by the mounting opposition to his plan, his father had abducted his daughter from the crèche and took her to the village for the commencement of the rituals and circumcision”.

Narrating the incident, Samson said, “My wife and I were completely devastated learning about the abduction of our daughter from the creche by my father. We quickly rushed to the village, physically challenged him and forcefully rescued our daughter from the family shrine. Our timely arrival at the village had really saved our daughter”, he concluded.

It will be recalled that the traditional practices of child genital mutilation, particularly girl-child and all forms of child abuse have been outlawed in Nigeria.

Former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan had in response to the public outcry against Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, signed a bill into law in 2015 proscribing the practice in Nigeria.

Providing further reason for the family’s decision to relocate and seek asylum in the United States of America, Samson’s wife, Oladunni gave account an of intimidation and threats suffered by her husband in the course of performing his professional duty as an investigative journalist in Lagos.

“Samson and one of his professional colleagues, Kunle Ayeni had stumbled on an exclusive story about a top Lagos  State government official’s involvement in corrupt practices.

Spurred by professionalism and determination to fight the menace of corruption in Nigeria, my husband and his colleague had embarked on a secret investigation of the allegations, compiled their reports and were on the verge of making the reports available to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for arraignment an prosecution when political pressure began to mount on them to abandon the report”.

According to Oladunni, “after series of intimidation, harassment and even threats of assassination, the report of the investigation had to be abandoned. On two occasions, my husband and his colleague were attacked by unknown thugs on their way from their respective offices. Samson’s colleague, Kunle Ayeni had to eventually relocate to Ekiti for fear of being killed by unknown assailants”.

Thus, being faced with the apprehension and consternation occasioned by the horror and fear of losing both husband and daughter to unknown assailants and archaic family tradition in Nigeria,  Samson’s wife, Oladunni had to apply for and eventually secured a Tourist Visa in 2015 to relocate with her family to the U.S in 2017.

Olorunfemi’s story, like many others, actually reflects lack of effective enforcement of laws, especially those bordering on the protection of children rights and all forms of child abuse in Nigeria.

It also underscores the degree to which corruption has been entrenched and the ferocious disposition of the perpetrators of the heinous crime to frustrate government’s efforts in tackling the scourge in Nigeria.

While some, like Samson had lived to tell their stories, others have not been lucky to narrate their ordeals!