Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh has accused her ex-husband, Olakunle Churchill, of spreading lies about her and being a deadbeat father. In a post on Instagram, Dikeh shared screenshots of conversations with Churchill in which she claimed he had lied about winning their son’s custody. She said she had actually won the case and accused Churchill of failing to take responsibility for their son’s welfare despite bragging online about his contributions. Dikeh also accused Churchill of paying just four months of child support fees, claiming he had told the court he was broke. The actress, who divorced Churchill in 2017, said she regrets having him as her son’s father and would ensure he did not need a dime from him or his name. Churchill celebrated their son’s seventh birthday earlier this week, prompting Dikeh to make her post.
The couple’s divorce was a messy affair, attracting significant media attention due to the public airing of their grievances. Dikeh alleged that Churchill had been physically abusive during their marriage and had affairs with other women. Churchill denied the claims and accused Dikeh of infidelity. The couple finally dissolved their marriage in 2017 after two years. Their acrimony continued beyond their divorce with both parties often making public accusations and counter-accusations.
The current accusations by Dikeh are the latest in the long-standing feud between the ex-couple. Dikeh’s post has generated significant online attention and has led to discussions on social media about the need to prioritise children’s welfare in divorce cases. Many Nigerians have expressed sympathy for Dikeh and their disappointment in Churchill for not living up to his responsibilities as a father. Some commentators have also advised the couple to resolve their differences privately in the interest of their son. Others have blamed the media for sensationalising their divorce and exacerbating their conflict.
The case highlights the often-contentious issue of child custody and support in Nigeria. There is a general lack of awareness and enforcement of child support laws in the country, with many parents, especially fathers, failing to meet their obligations. This has led to several non-governmental organisations and activists calling for reforms to improve the welfare of children of divorced or separated parents. They are advocating for stronger enforcement of child support laws and the establishment of an agency to enforce compliance.
The Dikeh-Churchill case is a sad reminder of the need to prioritise the welfare of children in divorce proceedings. It is essential to establish mechanisms that protect children’s rights and ensure their well-being is not compromised. The public airing of their grievances is not in the interest of their child and serves only to further damage the already strained relationship between the ex-couple. It is essential that Dikeh and Churchill resolve their differences amicably and work together for the welfare of their son.