A Nigerian British woman, Mercy Ogbedo who unknowingly wedded a an already married Nigerian British billionaire has been ordered by a court in Britain to pay him £100,000.
According to Mail Online; Mercy Ogbedo believed she married shipping magnate Moses Taiga in an elaborate ceremony in Nigeria where her feet were washed by village elders and a dowry was paid for her as a ‘bride price’.
The couple had twins together, but Mrs Ogbedo then spent a decade pursuing the tycoon for financial support through the British courts – only to be told she would not get a penny because their wedding ceremony was invalid. Instead, the 45-year-old of Finchley, North London, was ordered to pay 80 per cent of Mr Taiga’s legal costs for a series of complex court hearings, leaving her with an estimated £100,000 bill for lawyers’ fees.
Mrs Ogbedo went to the Court of Appeal yesterday in a bid to get the order overturned. The court heard she had ‘limited means’ while her ‘husband’ owned a string of London properties.
The pair ‘married’ in 2002 and had twins, but Mrs Ogbedo discovered soon afterwards that Mr Taiga had already married a woman in Benin, West Africa.
The court heard that having more than one wife is allowed under Nigerian law, but Mrs Ogbedo applied to the British courts in 2003 to have her marriage dissolved because of her husband’s behaviour, and to force Mr Taiga to pay maintenance for their children. The High Court ordered she should be given £300,000 a year – but Mr Taiga went to the Nigerian courts and successfully argued that their wedding was invalid, because of his church marriage in Benin. The court ruled that Mrs Ogbedo’s was a ‘non-marriage’, which meant precisely nothing in the eyes of the law. The High Court then ruled it could not hand over any of Mr Taiga’s fortune because he was never legally married to Mrs Ogbedo, and that she should pay most of his legal costs.
Her lawyers branded that decision ‘incomprehensible’ and said she should be entitled to a payout.
Barrister Timothy Scott QC, for Mrs Ogbedo, said: ‘The wife says she was duped. She should be permitted to apply for financial relief in England by virtue of that marriage ceremony.’
Since his split from Mrs Ogbedo, Mr Taiga has ended his 1974 Benin marriage and wed another woman, Yinka, with whom he has quadruplets.
Ruling on Mrs Ogbedo’s case, Appeal Court judge Lord Justice McFarlane said he had ‘real sympathy’ for her position, adding: ‘All the time the wife considered that she was married to her husband he was in fact married to another lady.’
However, he said he could not allow her to appeal over a divorce payout because ‘there was no marriage on which English law could bite’.
He said he would allow her to appeal against the order that she should pay Mr Taiga’s costs.
Lord Justice McFarlane said it was arguable that the sum was unfair, adding: ‘She has the sole care of the parties’ children and is a lady of limited means.’
What is wrong with the court’s ruling? Is this fair?