By Josephine Agbonkhese
Popular Nigerian Pastor, recently divorced his wife, not only for extra marital affairs but having given birth to children that were not his.
In 2015, Nigerian women cried foul when a survey conducted by condom manufacturer, Durex, branded Nigerian “married” women as the most sexually unfaithful in the world. The outcry was understandable though, as these are women known for their awe of culture and religion, far more than their counterparts anywhere else.
Four years down the line, the marital fidelity of Nigerian women has again been questioned with a report making the rounds since late 2018 claiming Nigeria has the second highest rate 30 percent of paternity fraud in the world. Paternity fraud is the pretence that a man is the legitimate and biological father of a child that isn’t his; a woman wrongly pinning a child on a man. In the report’s graphical presentation, Jamaica ranked first with 34.6%, while Canada, the UK and France were on the list with 2.8%, 1.6% and 1.4%, respectively.
As if that wasn’t injurious enough, one Mr Ayodele Ayodeji of Paternity Test Nigeria, a Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA, test centre in Lagos, was widely alleged to have affirmed, following the emergence of the above report, that there is one case of paternity fraud out of every four paternity test conducted at the centre.
Although these statistics have not been verified by any institution, disregarding it entirely is impossible as it continues to provoke conversation and, of course, reactions on cyberspace.
The claim too ridiculous, mothers react
“I don’t agree with that claim. It is too ridiculous. I am a Nigerian mother and I am sexually faithful to my spouse. How on earth will I now pin a child that isn’t his on him? How will I conceive such child in the first place?” retorted Ijeoma Thomas-Odia, a Lagos-based mum, while debunking the allegation during a conversation with Vanguard.
“If accusing fingers should be pointed at any of the parties in a marriage, then Nigerian men should be the focus. Most Nigerian women are sexually faithful to their marriages against all odds and will never engage in whatever they know will bring them disrespect and disgrace; such as sleeping with another man,” added Enitan Lawrence, a mother of three from the South-West.
Arguing that cheating is common among men more than women, Thomas-Odia emphasised that the only difference is the fact that women are the ones who bear the evidence of sexual recklessness pregnancy.
For Lawrence, Nigerian wives who cheat at all do so either because they have been frustrated by their cheating husbands into revenge, have been pushed to the wall by husbands who fail to provide for their needs but would rather spend money on extended family members, they are trying to cover-up an infertility issue in the home, or because they do not love the men they are married to, but were forced into the marriage by either their parents or circumstances.
Whatever may be the reason for marital infidelity on the part of a woman, the fact remains that she will bear the evidence of her sexual recklessness either in the form of a contracted sexually transmitted infection, pregnancy and/or even child birth; which could therefore result in paternity fraud, as no woman would let her child be labeled a bastard.
Nigerians should not be swayed by unnecessary sensationalism —Pathologist
Speaking to WW on condition of anonymity, a renowned pathologist and Chief Executive Officer of a notable laboratory in the country argued that there is no official statistics to prove that Nigeria truly has the second highest rate of paternity fraud in the world.
According to him, in the first place no reputable establishment will publicise such delicate information about the paternity of a person; which makes any official national data on paternity fraud difficult to collate.
“There is no statistical evidence to prove that. You get all sorts of data on the internet. The regular population does not do paternity test except to resolve an issue of trust or perhaps for immigration data purposes; of which I am also sure embassies will never publicise such information concerning anyone. Nigerians should not be swayed by unnecessary sensationalism,” he added.
On whether DNA testing should be made mandatory for all children to curtail any possibility of paternity fraud as some Nigerians now suggest since the controversial report surfaced, he said: “Even in the UK and in some other countries, you can’t do paternity test unless it is a court-ordered test. So, how does anyone come up with such national statistics on paternity fraud? In France where the report claims the percentage is 1.4%, it might interest you to know that paternity test is banned completely in that country; you can’t do it. So how did anyone get such data? In Nigeria, we do not have any restrictions but of course, a reputable laboratory will be required to successfully and reliably carry out one.”
For families that might still be anxious about verifying the paternity of their children but feel discouraged due to the purported exorbitant cost of the test, he debunked claims that DNA testing is affordable only to the affluent.
His words: “Anybody can afford to do a paternity test. It is not a sickness or diseases that its diagnosis will now be expensive. It can be done in any laboratory, but I will advise that we do every test in reputable laboratories. If a DNA test is done in a reputable laboratory, you can be sure it is 99.8% accurate. That is almost 100% accurate.”
Why paternity fraud might be dangerous
Speaking on the likely dangers of pinning a man’s biological child on another man, Professor(Mrs)Ibironke Akinsete, a renowned pathologist who was formerly Chairman, Pathcare Laboratories (now Synlab Nigeria), said occasions such as inheritance and organ donation may arise.
“Usually, blood relatives are the best to do a match for any organ donation. So, if such a need arises and it turns out that there is a mismatch somewhere, the truth will be unraveled by an eventual DNA test. For inheritance, some family might require a test perhaps because they doubt the paternity of a particular child; especially if the father died intestate,” said Akinsete.
Victims pay huge price— Maymunah Kadiri, Psychiatrist
In her analysis of the psychology behind paternity fraud, popular psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, said a married woman whose husband is in a better financial condition than the actual father of her child, might lie about the paternity of that child so the child can get the opportunity of a better life.
“Also, the fear of embarrassment and the consequences of divorce could make her lie about the paternity of the child. Due to the pressure from society to have children, some women become desperate if their husbands have fertility issues, and thus go ahead to reproduce with someone else and pass it off as their husband’s child,” Kadiri said.
Kadiri, however, warned that such children risked growing up with issues such as abandonment, lack of trust and also a sense of identity loss, noting that on the defrauded fathers also, the implications of discovering the truth could range from resentment to loss of self-esteem, lack of trust and also, severe embarrassment.