In 2016, Udoka Ezeimo travelled to Ghana for business and met Miss Magdalene Hackman. They were attracted to each other and a relationship began. Along the line, Hackman got pregnant and thought of aborting it to avoid causing friction in the relationship. She recalled that when she told Ezeimo of her situation, he begged her not to abort it, promising to marry her. After she was delivered of the baby, Ezeimo said he was returning to Nigeria and asked her to go with him.
When they got to Nigeria, the relationship, which had been sweet, turned sour. She said Ezeimo changed and suddenly took to beating her. The final straw was when he threw her things into the streets, took their three years old baby and ordered her to leave his home. Alone and broken, Hackman, a teacher, went to stay with a colleague.
It was there she gathered herself and began the fight for the custody of her child, Junior. She wept when she heard Ezeimo had moved the child from Lagos to Anambra State, to nurse by his aged parents. Hackman said: “My son is my first strength as a woman.
God knows I’ve never denied that Udoka is the father of the boy. I don’t want my son to grow up to disrespect women and become a woman beater. My husband cannot take care of our baby because his parents are old. I also don’t know where he wants to take him to. Everyone should help me in getting my son back. He needs me! “When Udoka and I started dating, he treated me well.
When I discovered I was pregnant, I wanted to go for an abortion, but he refused. He said I should keep the baby and promised to marry me.” After the baby’s arrival, Ezeimo told her that he was returning to Nigeria. He asked her to go with him to Nigeria.
She said: “I told him that before I would go with him, he had to pay my bride price and perform other necessary rites. He promised to do everything necessary to make us husband and wife. That was how I came with him to Nigeria, unaware his plan was to take the baby from me.
My baby was six months old when we left Ghana for Nigeria. When we got to Nigeria, he took our son and me to his village in Anambra State, to stay with his parents. While we were living with his parents, he took to beating me.
“When I complained, his parents said such acts were common in every relationship. His parents supported him and blamed me for his attacks on me. They told me to bear with Udoka, that he was short tempered. The beating became too much after we relocated to Ijegun area of Lagos in November 2019.” Hackman, however, stated that Ezeimo on November 20, 2020, threw her out of his house. On that fateful day, she was supposed to attend a programme at Winners Chapel Church in their area.
The programme was billed to last for two hours, but Udoka wouldn’t allow her to attend. She tried to explain that the programme was especially designed for women, but he wouldn’t budge. Hackman then took to pleading. But his sudden reaction to her pleadings left her speechless. She said: “As I was pleading with him, he suddenly walked towards me and slapped me. He said I should dare him and go to the church. Out of annoyance, I went to the church with my son. Before I returned, he had packed my clothes and threw them out.
He threatened to kill me if I didn’t leave his house. While I was begging him, he was still beating me, asking me to leave. He took my child from me. I decided to leave, but I didn’t have anywhere in mind. I’m not from Nigeria. I have no family members here.
I was weeping like a mad woman on the road. One of my colleagues at the school where I teach came to my rescue and accommodated me. While leaving, I asked Udoka to give me my baby, but he replied that the matter would be settled legally. “It was when we got to the school on Monday, where I worked, that my boss found me crying and asked what the matter was. I told her everything.
She advised me to seek assistance from human rights organisations. It was through her assistance that I located human rights fighters. The human rights fighters went with me to Isheri Police Station. When we got to the police station, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) invited Udoka to the station. When he came, he was instructed to bring our child for an amicable resolution. Udoka promised, but till date, he had not brought the child.
The DPO told him he couldn’t take care of the baby because it was in the Nigerian constitution that a mother should take care of a child.” The woman recalled that while they were at the station, Udoka’s sister, who is a lawyer, called the DPO. “But I didn’t know what they discussed,” she added. Hackman said that immediately after the phone call, the DPO, who earlier had been asking Ezeimo to bring the baby, suddenly changed.
“The DPO said he couldn’t handle the case. He asked that the matter be transferred to the Area M Police Command, Idimu, for further investigations,” Hackman narrated. When the couple got to the Area M Commander’s office, he asked Hackman to state what transpired between her and Udoka. She said: “After telling the Area Commander everything, including how Udoka used to beat me incessantly and the abduction of my son, I was shocked when he asked me to return to Udoka, that he had promised not to beat me again.
Out of annoyance, I asked him if he would allow his sister or daughter to return to a man, who used to beat her and had threatened to kill her. I also told him that I couldn’t make peace with someone who beats me every time. I know the kind of man I’m living with and I have decided that I don’t want anything to do with him again. “I don’t know why everywhere I turn to, I wouldn’t find help. I don’t know if the police want Udoka to kill me.
They know I have nobody here in Nigeria. Nobody will ask of me if Udoka kills me. I’m not going to relent; I’m going to the embassy in Lagos to report the matter so as to get justice.” Hackman was not the only person disappointed in the attitude of the Area Commander. The Secretary of the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN), Ebenezer Omejalile, said the Isheri Police Station Divisional Police Officer (DPO) asked Udoka to come along with the baby, but surprisingly, he didn’t show up with the baby. He added: “Udoka and Magdalene were also taken to see the Area M Commander and it was shocking that the Area Commander chose to be ethnic-biased as he didn’t see anything wrong in what Udoka did.
I’m very disappointed with the Area Commander. How can he ask a woman, who had been abused and traumatised, to go back to such a relationship? According to the Child’s Rights Act, every child needs protection.
The Act, Sections 1, 2 and 3, state that everything we do should be in the best interest of the child. Also in the law, children who are not up to five years old are usually under the custody of their mothers.”
When contacted to get his side of the story, Ezeimo said he didn’t have anything to say on the matter since it was before the police. He then hissed and dropped the call. An officer attached to the human rights desk at Area M, who didn’t want his name mentioned, revealed that Ezeimo had been given until December 7 to bring the baby and that he had promised to do so. “We don’t know where he took the baby to. However, we have contacted the person that stood surety for him. If we don’t get the baby back as promised by Ezeimo, we are going to go after the surety.
But we are making efforts to retrieve the baby and hand him over to his mother,” the officer said. The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed Udoka was with the baby.
He said: “The area commander agreed to settle the matter amicably between the couple. Udoka had alleged that Magdalene wanted to travel to Ghana with the baby, but he feared she wouldn’t return the child to Nigeria. That was why he didn’t want her to take the baby. But right now, Udoka has taken the baby to somewhere in the East. When he was contacted by the police, he promised to return the baby to Lagos and opted for peaceful settlement.”