Rising Spate of Paternity Disputes in Nigeria – THISDAYLIVE


Four out of every 10 boys tested are not the biological children of their alleged fathers

With the moral crime of paternity fraud and the upsurge in paternity testing and divorce, our personal life histories are daily being rewritten. Drawing upon the staggering data from Nigeria and the experiences of victims and key stakeholders, Adedayo Adejobi writes on the rising

spate of paternity fraud and its lasting effect on marital union

Thirty-four-year-old Kenechukwu Eze is a father who knows how fulfilling it is to have a child. However, he has doubts in the back of his mind: is this child biologically mine? How come he doesn’t look like me? The more he ponders, the more red flags he sees. Likewise, 47-year-old Kunle Aruwajoye harbours similar paternity doubts.

For Emoche Agaba, her husband’s growing doubts about their child’s paternity threatened their union.

‘‘When my second daughter was born, she was so different in personality from my husband that he often made comments that she wasn’t his. I was very hurt by these comments. I wished he would do the test himself if he had suspicions instead of ever making those comments. It was the beginning of the end of our marriage,” she recounted.

This is where paternity DNA testing gets into the picture. Many Nigerians have discovered DNA testing has a potential to wreak havoc on the family structure, as it tests marital fidelity and personal integrity.

A Victim of Infidelity

Narrating a rather painful ordeal in the discovery of the paternity of his child, a victim speaking on account of anonymity said: “A few years ago, part of my job required me to travel a lot within the West Africa regions. I spent between two and three months at home and abroad alternatively for about three years. I had a two-year-old son and a side business I co-owned with a couple of friends. Because I was not always around, my wife took my responsibility for the side business. This means she spent a lot of time working at the business along with my friends. One day, I was in Ghana and got a phone call from my wife saying she was pregnant again. It was totally unexpected, but soon the happy feeling overcame the vague doubt that I had.’’

Later, I no longer had to travel for work. I never had any suspicion about the paternity of my second son until one day I found out about a conversation between my wife and one of my friends, Ben. My wife denied it when I confronted her. As my younger boy was growing up, he started looking like Ben. I told myself I needed to settle this once and for all. I took DNA tests, twice. And as you can guess the two results confirmed that I was not the biological father.

“I was lost. My world collapsed. I walked away broken. It was very painful.’’

Paternity DNA Testing

Paternity DNA testing is a highly accurate method of identifying whether a man is a child’s biological father.  Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic material transferred from both mother and father to their child. Paternity refers to fatherhood. Hence, a DNA paternity test uses DNA samples from a man and his offspring, to determine whether the man is the child’s biological father.

DNA paternity testing works by comparing a child’s DNA profile with that of the alleged father(s). The test looks at DNA markers to identify which half of the child’s DNA is inherited from the alleged father. The test involves collecting samples (a simple mouth swab or toothbrush where discretion is needed) from the alleged father and the child.

However, it is very important to point out that paternity “fraud” is not always intentional. Paternity fraud, also known as misattributed paternity or paternal discrepancy, occurs when a man is incorrectly identified as the biological father of a child. The underlying assumption of “paternity fraud” is that the mother deliberately misidentified the biological father, while “misattributed paternity” may be accidental.

The main reasons Nigerians undertake paternity tests are to establish relationships – parentage, siblingship or avuncular. Looking at the 12 months’ data released by Nigeria’s leading Paternity Data Centre, Smart DNA Nigeria, some rather staggering findings stare one in the face.


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