PATERNITY FRAUD IN NIGERIA

It is always said that ‘only the woman truly knows the father of her child.’ Well, the notion might be true of Mrs. Kemi Adegbonmire, a middle-aged woman who got married to an elderly man who has four grown daughters that are older than her.

Kemi hit gold when she met Chief Adegbonmire. She was well-received by the four daughters of the chief who stay outside the country. Because of the care and love she showed their father since the death of their mother, they liked her. The old man, all these years, felt he needed a son to take his surname. It, therefore, gladdened his heart when Kemi bore him a bouncing baby boy.

Kemi helped manage the chief’s cocoa business and made a fortune for herself while the son was raised by the whole family – he was the apple of the old man’s eye. The sweet and happy family became sour and sad when Kemi’s old lover, whom she had been paying all these years to keep mute, increased his bill to six figures.

Charles, the biological father of the boy, threatened to disclose the matter to Chief who was now in his eighties. When Charles realized Kemi wasn’t giving in to the new terms, the disagreement got to the Chief. As a result of the shock, Chief became paralyzed.

A DNA paternity test was carried out and it was confirmed that the son truly belongs to Kemi’s old lover. Chief Adegbonmire passed away as a result of the issue while Kemi and her son were sent packing by the aggrieved daughters of the chief. This case is the least of the issues of paternity fraud in Nigeria.

Paternity fraud
A young man carrying his child

Another case, relayed by a witness in a magistrate court, is about a young couple. A few months after their wedding, the husband found out his wife was pregnant and she gave birth not long after. The husband, who claimed the pregnancy isn’t rocket science disclosed that his wife shouldn’t have delivered at that time if truly he was the father of the baby. The wife, who insisted on not going for any test was forcefully taken to the hospital for a DNA test which showed she had the baby for another man. This made the husband file for divorce in the law court.

How paternity fraud occurs

It is very easy to get involved in paternity fraud when you are involved in unprotected sexual intercourse with your partner, which may lead to pregnancy. Three out of ten men in Nigeria are said to be a victim of paternity fraud. Women who had sex with more than one man within the same period always find it difficult to identify the real father of the baby.

Whoever claims to be responsible or whoever the woman feels will cater for her needs and that of her baby’s is authorized as the real father. Paternity fraud also happens when a man is asked to sign an affidavit of paternity for a child with whom he shares no biological connection.

Paternity fraud and its consequences

This can be devastating for men who have spent years believing they are biologically tied to a child only to learn that they actually share no DNA. It often leads to emotional pain, stroke or death, just as in the case of Chief Adegbonmire. If the victim has been paying child support for years, it is very difficult to be reimbursed for the payments, causing the victims to also lose financially.

Paternity fraud is however not regarded as a crime according to law. Paternity fraud often goes undetected for years. It is only revealed after medical records show that the child cannot possibly be related to the man attributed as the father.

How paternity fraud can be prevented

In an age where tests such as blood genotype test, retroviral test (HIV/AIDS) and so on are a prerequisite before a man and a woman could be joined together, DNA paternity test should also be made compulsory for pregnant women. Science, through a DNA paternity test, is a way out of this societal issue called ‘Paternity fraud’. If this could be done, the rate of men who had been misattributed to a child will be decreased.

What then is a DNA paternity test?

A DNA paternity test is a DNA test that is performed to determine if a particular man is the biological father of a particular child. All humans receive half of the DNA from the biological mother and the other half from the biological father.

The DNA paternity test, therefore, reveals if the alleged father’s DNA contains the genes that the child inherited (or possibly inherited) from its biological father. If the alleged father does not possess the genes, then he cannot be the biological father of the child and the probability of paternity is zero. If the alleged father possesses these genes, then he can’t be ruled out as the biological father and the probability of paternity, in most case, will be more than 99.9%.

How accurate is a DNA paternity test?

The results of a DNA paternity test is 99.9% accurate. A DNA paternity test can only be wrong when the DNA test of a man is falsely included as the biological father’s when he is not. For a DNA paternity test to be accurate, testing the mother’s sample (tissues such as blood, hair, etc. are used) is recommended.

This makes it possible to determine exactly which half of the child’s genes came from her and, therefore, which half came from the father. When the mother’s sample is tested, it provides confirmation that the correct child was tested because the mother must match her child genetically. Testing should, therefore, be mandatory.

When this is done, emotional pain and other problems that could arise from a paternity test could be prevented. Paternity fraud, no doubt, is one of the problems in our society. All measures should, therefore, be taken to checkmate this criminal deception through fatherhood.

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