By Funmi Ajumobi & Ebunoluwa Sessou
Recently, the Nigerian social media were agog with the story of a love triangle involving some prominent members of the country’s financial sector; and while love triangles are not considered particularly extraordinary, paternity frauds which sometimes attend them are so considered.
Men who had confidently given their names to their children have been covered in sweat ever since they heard of the possibility that the woman in their bed whom they thought they knew so well, might be harbouring one devastating secret or the other.
Late Nigerian presidential election winner and billionaire, Chief MKO Abiola had famously required that DNA testing be performed on his dozens of children to ascertain their paternities after his demise.
Traditionally, paternity fraud, when exposed, is a phenomenon sure to whip up hysteria with men, women and children in every stratum of society.
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For the officious, borders have been violated into dangerous territory, with questions now being asked about age-old practices of boss/subordinate love trysts.
Morals are subjective or objective — Jimoh Ibrahim
Businessman and Cambridge Doctorate candidate Jimoh Ibrahim, in a statement made available to WO states, ”Unfortunately, morals are not laws because of their imposing characteristics that offend justice. The court of fairness passed the judgment long before now on morality- it is repugnant to natural justice, equity, and good conscience – they are un-practicable and un-enforceable in fairness! If the court is to be presiding over what is immoral, then the judiciary is gone. Morals are subjective or objective.
DNA testing is mostly a reliable result —Scientist
Explaining the rationale behind DNA, Dr. Joseph Bamidele Minari of the Faculty of Science, the University of Lagos who is also the National Vice President, Society for Experimental Biology of Nigeria disclosed that DNA is the code that represents a particular trait in the body. It is transcribed to RNA, MRNA which produces the protein that now controls what the body requires. They are codes that carry information that can be transferred from one generation to the other.
Asked how effective DNA is in Nigeria based on the continuous issues of paternity fraud, he said, “To a large extent, DNA testing is accurate to at least from 95% to 97%. Generally, in our genomic makeup, we are the same but we just have a little percentage that is different. So, when you do paternity or maternity testing, you look for a way if you have alleged father A, B, or C, taking the DNA of the alleged fathers, we now run the same pattern of test segment for them with the genetic analyzer. So except for the few aberrations that we have, DNA testing is mostly a reliable result.
“For accessibility, awareness is just coming up in this part of the world. This is because we play low on sciences. Most of the time when motivational speakers come to speak to schools, they talk to our students to go and learn how to make shoes, bags, and so on. Yes, we understand that we have economic problems, but there is a need for science. We are playing down sciences so much in this part of the world. Most of our science students don’t even practice. They end up in banks, insurance, and most of them in Journalism like you. So, we are not encouraging the practice of science which is telling us as a whole.
“On whether there can be mistakes, there is the possibility of laboratory errors and sometimes the DNA degrades, although not as fast as RNA. RNA degrades faster and that is why we use more DNA. In most cases, what we do, just like in the rest of the world, is to do a double check in other laboratories and that is why we need more laboratories like what they have abroad.
Speaking further on why an individual would opt for a DNA test, he said, “Application of DNA is very wide. It could be for paternity or maternity. It could also be for crime resolution which digs deeply into forensic DNA to arrest criminals and to also avoid torturing innocent people picked at the crime scene. Though it is unfortunately in this part of the world that we don’t have a database and this makes it difficult. When a sample is taken, the DNA would be placed with the DNA sample taken from the crime scene and it will match with the actual person involved in the crime.
“It could also be for identification as I said earlier in my example that it is used to identify the remains of people in aircraft crashes so that families don’t bury wrong bodies.”,
On the possibility of DNA disrupting peaceful homes, he said, “In science, facts on DNA are always appreciated. “In some parts of Africa especially in Nigeria, there are some traditional ways they use to cross-check whether a child is from their family. This practice is even worse than running a DNA test. For me, I think the DNA would rather do more good. What will happen eventually is that if a partner knows that his partner can go for a DNA test anytime, the possibility of cheating or having immoral acts would reduce. It is better for partners to confess to each other to avoid committing suicide which is now common and some even commit homicide. Instead of living in denials that would eventually lead to assault.
“For me, DNA will help to resolve a lot of issues and for those lying, it will catch up with them that they want to avoid responsibilities
On DNA testing cost, he said, “It ranges between N60, 000, N150, 000 and N 200,000. This is because reagents for molecular biology studies are very expensive.
Lots of dynamics in extramarital affairs — Psychologist
Considering the psychological approach to the issue, a clinical and counseling psychologist, Dr. Toyin Sanbe, PH.D is currently the consultant in-charge of Sanbe Memorial counseling Clinic. According to him, there are lots of dynamics in extra-marital affairs.
In an interview with WO, he said, “It is important to let you know that behavior can be learned and unlearned. Looking at it from a cognitive process, which is the thinking aspect of the person or persons in action. So many reasons might be agitating the mind of the person and nobody can really put a finger to the actual cause unless the persons involved are guided and counseled by competent professionals like psychologists.
“I can tell you for free that an individual who is going to get involved in such action might not necessarily be in need of finance. One of the questions is who pays the gateman who is servicing Madam? So, it is not about inadequate financial provision for Madam. It might not necessarily be an inadequate capability of the man (husband) to service Madam. It could be as a result of the substance used. And all these are dynamics. And sometimes, one-off thing and it will result in what we are looking at. Therefore, there are lots of dynamics that could lead to the action and precipitate the result of the conflict about the outcome of the relationship.
Looking at the reality of the situation, he said, “It will be embedded with confusion, anxieties, stigma, hostility, and societal challenges. In all of these, when the individual is exposed to a competent psychologist, the individual can still live a better life but I can tell you that it is traumatic especially in a society like ours.
“Africa has a philosophy of who is a bastard child. In African psycho-philosophy proverbs, it is believed that a peaceful and progressive home does not abhor a bastard. The big question, therefore, is to know who is a bastard. And that is why we talk about reorientation while understanding the dynamics that man should be going through.
“Perception is an issue that can lead to all these negative influences. In other words, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Somebody needs a child somehow and he or she gets it somehow. Somebody who does not need a child gets a fling and along the line, the person either by religious philosophy decided to keep the pregnancy. The person is caught in the web and then delivers the child. And luckily, in this circumstance, it is not as if the lady did not know who did what. The question will be, why did she succumb to that? Nobody had given her the opportunity to explain what could have been responsible and that is why psychologists would come in.
“In Yoruba adage, it is explained that when things go wrong, people tend to look at the particular direction instead of analyzing all the necessary grey areas that could have necessitated the move. Psychologists would look at the issue.
On whether an extra-marital affair is an African culture or not he said, “It is not an African culture but a human culture. Magun for example is African. It is a way by which the African community prevents promiscuity or extra-marital relationships, so, it is a human race. It is an issue that will continue to happen.
The two persons can still trust themselves and that lies under the principle of forgiveness. Psychologists on conflict resolution or transaction analysis would be employed in this regard. Depending on the individual’s readiness and exposure to ensure accurate information is given. If the two parties are not too emotional or sensational about the issue. So many things worse than this are happening and yet not publicized.
I have seen a family where the woman had children for a man and came back to the previous husband with whom she had one or no child, all these are dynamics and they are human matter. And human matters are not too straight-jacketed and that is why we say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. That I would not take her does not mean that another man is not ready to grab her.
“The children involved can forgive their parents if it is properly handled. There is what we call cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps the individual leading to leading to irrational behavior to be helped. The child will be helped as well. The child needs to know that she or he is not responsible for the matter. It is not for the product to be blamed. And if those who are principal actors are now seeking forgiveness, it is also important to be assured of the well being of the child and how she or he will live. All these are human races. It does not need a one-directional approach. It is multi-directional. If you are looking at it from the top, another person can be looking at it from the side or the bottom.
“This is a personal issue. There was a case of a man whose wife gave birth to four children but the only boy amongst them belongs to the man. The woman confessed to the therapist that the three girls were not the man’s children and it was not known to the man. So, it was not in our position to disclose such information to the man. Since it is a confidential issue. Therefore, it is not a regular issue that can be in the popular domain every day.
Infertility is a major factor
The best approach is to speak with a clinical psychologist. And through the psychologist referral could be made through the submission that the psychologist has been able to find out. There are lots of dynamics that can be used in solving this issue based on the psychological state of an individual and to accept the reality as it is based on facts and not fiction made available to the psychologist.
Inability to accept the reality of life
“The decision is personal to either the wife or the husband. As psychologists, we do not recommend or prescribe. The individual who is in therapy will be responsible for his or her decision and take it. The individual will be taking such decisions or choices based on adequate information made available to the therapist”, he concluded.
Ethics is always a personal choice — Educationist
An Educationist, Kemi Ogunyemi, of the Faculty, Christopher Kolade School of Ethics at the Lagos Business School, in her approach on the issue of paternity fraud disclosed that, it is a bit complicated. “It’s probably a case by case thing. The greatest issue would be the possible interference with good judgment and fairness”.
According to her, ethics is always a personal choice, but then those choices affect other people and they are probably confused as to what to do.