You could feel the silence in the courtroom on your skin.

It had followed an exclamation of; Ahhhhhhh! that quietened down almost immediately.

Everyone wanted to hear why Stephen Enebeli, said he would die if he gave his wife money for the upkeep of the house, children and herself.

The 55-year-old fashion designer was before an Igando Customary Court in Lagos on Thursday for the hearing of a divorce request filed by his wife, Eunice, who had claimed Enebeli had failed to live up to expectation. 

But while she sought divorce the husband is insisting that he wants to be with the children since sending money to the wife will mean his death.

Responding to the divorce petition, Enebeli said: “I stopped giving her money for feeding and school fees of our children when she started living with another man.

“In my tradition, if a woman marries another husband legally or illegally and the former husband still gives her money for the welfare of the children, he will die and I am not ready to die now".

This tradition exists in some Niger Delta States where Enebeli is presumably from.

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Explaining why he had reached that decision, the respondent said his wife sent him packing from their matrimonial home and that he is presently squatting with friends.

“Eunice forced me out of her house because I always fight her for leaving the children at home and going to sleep with other men,” he said.

According to him, Eunice lacks respect just because she makes more money.

He wanted the court to grant him the custody of the children so that he could train them.

“I don’t want another man to father or train my children while I am alive,” he added.

An Irresponsible Husband

Unperturbed by the man’s statements, Eunice urged the court to terminate their 16-year-old marriage for lack of care. 

“My husband is an irresponsible husband and father.

“While he was still living with me, he refused to pay house rent, feeding or school fees of the children, I shouldered all the responsibilities.

“I bought him a motorcycle in addition to his fashion designing work so that he could be supportive but he is just lazy and abandoned the motorcycle,” Eunice said.

The 36-year-old food vendor said that her husband was threatening to poison her.

“Stephen always tells me that he will kill me with poison if I make any attempt to divorce him and that he will marry another wife,” the petitioner alleged.

The mother of three pleaded with the court to end the marriage as she is no longer in love with him.

Delivering judgment, the court President, Mr Akin Akinniyi, said that the petitioner was adamant on her request despite all mediation from the court and family.

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“Since the petitioner insisted on divorce after several interventions, the court has no choice than to dissolve the union in spite of the fact that the husband still claims he loves his wife.

“The court pronounces the marriage between Mrs Eunice Enebeli and Mr Stephen Enebeli dissolved today, both parties henceforth cease to be husband and wife.

“Both parties are free to go their separate ways without any hindrances and molestation, the court wishes you well in your new journey.

“The custody of the children should remain with their mother,”Akinniyi ruled.