A mild drama ensued at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Social Development Secretariat (SDS), over the weekend, when a girl vehemently refused all attempts to reunite her with her aged father, after six months of being away from home, due to custody battle.
The child, a six-year-old Ufedo Suleiman, had been in the custody of the FCT Children Home following a custody battle between her foster father, Alhaji Sule Danladi Usman, and the family of her late foster mother, Hajiya Salamatu Suleiman.
The deceased family had petitioned the Gender Department of the SDS, to rescue young Ufedo from Usman and his biological children, alleging molestation and abuse of the minor.
It was gathered that the FCT Family Court had earlier ruled in favour of the foster father, a sister of the deceased, Ms Victoria Ekpa insists the child will be in danger if reunited into the family.
Victoria, who spoke on behalf of the family of the deceased was insisting that Usman has no right over a child he had objected to her adoption from the onset.
She also claims the adoption papers presented in court by the accused were forged to allow him custody rights and by extension, claims to the landed properties the deceased had left for her child.
Victoria said: “Usman never accepted this child because he said it is against his religious beliefs to adopt a child or even bequest properties to them. My sister however insisted because she wanted a child that will take care of her in old age. My sister went to the City of Refuge Orphanage Durumi where she adopts a child.
“She started making plans for her child when Usman’s wives and children started mocking her for not having a biological child of her own. That act made her realised that her child will never be accepted or taken care of after her demise, she bought one of her husband’s properties in Dawaki which she was developing before her death”.
She said though the family would be appealing the judgment of the Family Court, she wants Nigerians to rescue Ufedo from the danger she is about to be sent into.
“This girl child given to an 82-year-old man is not right. He never accepted this child and now that my sister is late, he is claiming the child because of the properties she left behind. As a family we are not interested in the properties all we want is the safety of Ufedo. I am calling on the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, Minister of Women Affairs and NAPTIP to come into this matter,” she added.
However, Usman, who is a retired Assistant Director of Accounts with the Ministry of Police Affairs, claims the adoption process was legally followed through.
Usman said: “My daughter was adopted seven days after her birth, I took sole responsibility of her upkeep throughout my wife’s lifetime until some months ago when my wife’s sisters came to my house, took pictures of my daughter and manipulated them claiming maltreatment”.
The father of ten described the accusation by his late wife’s family as baseless and libellous, stressing that he is a responsible father who has successfully trained all his children.
On the role of the SDS, Usman said he was not given a fair hearing before his daughter was taken from him.
He said: “They took a decision based on libellous accusations levelled against me but I thank God the court ruled on the part of justice.”