Mom loses attraction in custody case, Ontario courtroom sends her three youngsters to Nigeria

Olubukola Ajayi, a mom from Nigeria, within the east finish of Ottawa, on Sept. 15.Ashley Fraser/The Globe and Mail

An Ontario attraction courtroom has despatched three youngsters again to Nigeria and the custody of their father, rejecting their mom’s arguments that she couldn’t get a good shake in that nation due to patriarchal attitudes and anti-gay prejudice.

The case of Olubukola Ajayi and Eyitope Ajayi is considered one of a rising variety of disputes in Canada that set issues about worldwide baby abduction in opposition to arguments about unfairness and discrimination in international jurisdictions.

Ms. Ajayi argued in courtroom that she was justified in bringing their three younger youngsters to Canada with out the daddy’s consent final November, due to discrimination, abuse (which Mr. Ajayi denies committing), patriarchal attitudes and the affect of her ex-husband’s household in Nigeria.

She requested the Ontario Superior Court docket to imagine jurisdiction for the couple’s parenting points and grant her sole decision-making authority over the youngsters.

On the identical day, Mr. Ajayi requested a Nigerian courtroom to dissolve the wedding.

In Nigeria, gay acts could also be punished with jail sentences. Mr. Ajayi made reference in a courtroom doc filed in Nigeria to Ms. Ajayi being linked to the LGBTQ neighborhood. That pressured Ontario judges, in an preliminary ruling and an attraction, to grapple with how Nigeria’s authorized system operates, and decide whether or not its courts would put the youngsters first.

“I ran right here only for a good shot at defending my rights as their mother,” Ms. Ajayi, who skilled as a lawyer in Nigeria, stated in an interview. Each she and her ex-husband are twin residents of Canada and Nigeria, as are the youngsters; Ms. Ajayi travelled to Canada to present start to the youngsters right here.

However the courts right here, she stated, “didn’t perceive how being a person in Nigeria offers all this further privilege and energy. I had by no means deliberate to alienate my youngsters from their father and his household. However I knew that that’s what they wished to do to me in Nigeria.”

Paul Riley, a lawyer for the daddy, stated the choice confirmed that Ontario courts will stand as much as baby abduction.

“I believe what the choice exhibits this week is that Canada will not be going to embrace those that contain themselves in baby abduction. You aren’t going to depart your nation after which wrap yourselves within the heat embrace of the Ontario judicial system.”

Canada is a signatory to the Hague Conference on the Civil Features of Worldwide Little one Abduction, which units out the authorized guidelines for returning youngsters to their residence jurisdiction. However Nigeria will not be a member of the conference, and Ontario legislation supplies that the province’s courts could take jurisdiction in such a case the place it’s happy that the international nation doesn’t put youngsters’s finest pursuits first.

A two-woman, one-male panel of Ontario’s Divisional Court docket launched a written ruling this week explaining why that they had upheld Household Court docket Justice Tracy Engelking’s determination to reject jurisdiction within the case. Having taken the youngsters with out consent, Ms. Ajayi wanted to point out they might undergo severe hurt if returned to Nigeria, Justice Elizabeth Sheard, Justice Katherine Swinton and Justice David Aston stated.

The judges stated they accepted Justice Engelking’s ruling from Might that Ms. Ajayi had failed to take action. Justice Engelking discovered that Ms. Ajayi had solely ever stated she could be asexual, and that Mr. Ajayi himself had testified in Ontario that he helps homosexual rights. An knowledgeable in Nigerian legislation testified that none of this could be a think about figuring out the youngsters’s finest pursuits in a Nigerian courtroom.

Justice Engelking additionally dominated the youngsters weren’t susceptible to hurt with their father, noting that Ms. Ajayi had left the 2 older youngsters of their father’s look after an prolonged interval when she got here to Canada to present start. As for the daddy’s household’s affect, Justice Engelking identified that Ms. Ajayi’s mom is a superior courtroom choose in Nigeria.

The kids at the moment are again in Nigeria. Ms. Ajayi stated she won’t return to Nigeria however her legal professionals will combat in that nation for main custody for her, “and to have them returned again to me.” If they don’t succeed, they are going to ask for video name entry and holidays with Ms. Ajayi in Ottawa.

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Nicholas Bala, a professor specializing in household legislation at Queen’s College, stated that extra cellular societies have produced rising numbers of worldwide household legislation disputes.

“Within the absence of persuasive proof of abuse or discrimination, it’s acceptable to ship these instances again to the nation of origin – which additionally has the impact of telling those who Canada will not be going to grow to be a haven for baby abduction,” he stated.

He stated it’s also a “query of stability.” In some nations, politics could wrongly enter family-law disputes. “I believe the courtroom was happy that Nigeria in 2022 will not be a kind of nations.”

Ms. Ajayi’s lawyer Valerie Akujobi stated it’s a problem when Canadian courts need to make determinations based mostly partly on attitudes and sentiments in a international jurisdiction.

“The courtroom does attempt to strike the precise stability; on this case, we simply felt that sure features had been maybe misplaced in translation.”

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