Dr. Abiodun Salami, Chief Medical Director, DNA Centre, Lagos in an interview with Vanguard in 2012 gave his reasons why paternity fraud is high in Nigeria.
“Recent trends in sexual health especially in Nigeria suggest that unprotected sex and multiple partners’ relationships are a common occurrence. Another issue is poor family planning among women. Most first born pregnancies are still unplanned” he says.
Salami further says “I have seen and discussed with women who for one reason or other decisions in their own wisdom to give another man’s child to their husbands without the husband’s knowledge.”
In 2015, Mike tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend. Shortly after, they gave birth to a bouncing baby girl.
Mike’s marriage could have been a fairy tale, but two years later, through a series of unfortunate events, Mike found out that the child he called his daughter wasn’t his. His world crashed in an instant.
To deal with the pain of knowing that the little girl in his house wasn’t his, he moved to South Africa.about:blank
While Mike found out early on in his marriage, some men, unfortunately, discover that they have raised another man’s child much late in their lives.
In February 2017, a Nigerian man identified as Oscar found out that 32-year-old Valentine wasn’t his biological son. The clip was from the Jeremy Kyle Show in the United Kingdom which later went viral.
The two stories above are examples of paternity fraud.
Paternity fraud is when a mother deliberately misidentifies her partner as the biological father of her child. If you let the Internet tell it, paternity fraud is high in Nigeria backed up with unverified stats.
This leads Pulse to ask an expert if paternity fraud is truly high or is it one of the fake news stories online.
“Nigeria ranks high in paternity fraud. The current statistic for this puts Nigeria as the second highest in the world with around 30% of cases of paternity fraud in the population” Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Co-founder of Stack Diagnostics tells Pulse.
The 30% statistic (or 3 out of 10 Nigerian fathers) is not new. Within the last couple of years, this statistic has bubbled to the surface in social media conversations.
While experts believe that paternity fraud is high in Nigeria, there is a problem holding on to the 30% data as the gospel truth.
Ene-Obong explains further, “As with most health-based statistics in Nigeria, they are either under-reported or exaggerated because the problem typically lies in how the sample is collected. It is possible that there was some sampling bias to this 30% number but even for sampling biases, that number is quite high.”
For now, 30% is what we have to work with. “We can’t actually be sure of this. It is a possibility if you take the study at face value because 30% equates to 3 out of 10” says Ene-Obong.
According to him “it isn’t fake news but at the same time, the only way we can know for sure is if an independent study is done that seeks to eliminate sampling biases.
“In other words, the only study we have about this phenomenon puts it at 3 out of 10, so to a large extent that is factual. An independent study that shows us less or more will also be factual and will dispel the 30% number.”
Why is paternity fraud high?
“I won’t comment on whether spouses cheat or not. But I will say access to paternity tests in Nigeria is very limited, and where available, costs are high. This certainly enables paternity fraud” explains Ene-Obong.
A paternity test at Diagnose Me, a genetic and specialist service provider in Africa, goes for N80,000 ($220.06). With this high cost, male partners and husbands do not necessarily consider doing paternity tests for their kids until the need arises.
And when does this need arise?
Paternity tests in Nigeria are usually done for immigration reasons, health reasons or when there is a clear indication or strong suspicion that a female partner or wife has been unfaithful.