3 Out of 10 Nigerian Men Are Not Biological Fathers of Their Children
According to available data from DNA experts, 3 out of 10 men are victims of paternity fraud, as they're not the biological fathers of their children.
A DNA test revealed that Christopher Johnson wasn't the biological father of the three children he had nurtured and invested in for almost two decades. Christopher was a victim of paternity fraud, it seemed.
The children, Esther, 19, Shirley, 17 and Stephen, 15, were born by the same mother who unfortunately was deceased. Christopher, a successful but retired architect, was compelled to find out the truth about the paternity of the children. This was after a stranger turned up one day to claim he was their biological father. The said stranger also challenged him to a DNA paternity test.
Christopher received the shock of his life when the result proved that the stranger was indeed the children's real father. It turned out that the man and his late wife had been involved in a long secret love affair. The three children were products of the three children he erroneously assumed belonged to him.
DNA paternity tests are unraveling a lot of buried family secrets. Keeping family secrets isn't as easy as it used to be and just one DNA test could change everything for better or for worse.
The Prevalence of Paternity Fraud In Nigeria
The perception that paternity fraud is high in Nigeria is not unfounded. Reports have been making the rounds that Nigeria has the 2nd highest rate of paternity fraud in the world after Jamaica. Many men have been unknowingly raising children that are not theirs and to curb the trend, there have been calls for introduction of mandatory DNA testing at birth.
"The issue of paternity is a trilogy. It's moral, scientific and legal issue," a concerned commentator noted. "Series of DNA tests carried out in laboratories are showing that a number of children are being fathered by men who are not their biological fathers."
Investigation revealed that traditionally in Nigeria, paternity of a child is commonly determined by acknowledgment, presumption or by proof. Probably the most common mode of paternity is by acknowledgment. Once a man admits he is the father of a child, the case is closed. A man is presumed to be the father of a child once the child is born within wedlock.
How To Determine The Paternity Of A Child
It is often said that a woman is in best position to identify the father of her child, so once a woman fingers a particular man, case closed. However, developments show that proving paternity is often not as straightforward.
Also, the high emphasis on biological children in African society is a factor. A childless marriage is not a blessed marriage. Women are usually considered as being responsible when there are no children. The onus is on her to prove that she is fertile and has not messed up her body before marriage.
The pressure for pregnancy before marriage is also a factor. Here, there are two categories. Those who insist on pregnancy as a precondition for marriage and those who decide to get married to anyone who becomes pregnant for them.
There are times parents and family accept pregnancies on behalf of their children, even when the children deny being responsible.
The practice of multiple sex partners by young women is now commonplace. Some women keep two or three relationships juggling them until one of them is ready for marriage. The one who is first to be ready will bear it all.
Some other factors:
Rape is also an issue. Here, the culture of silence prevails. Very few adult women who are victims of rape report the incident. Disclosing a rape incident may jeopardise a victim's relationships.
Error in identification by the hospital cannot be ruled out. The recent revelation by the East African nurse who confessed in having fun by swapping babies in the children's ward is a rare but classic case. Such a child might become a burden to the mother who will not be able to explain what went wrong.
A lawyer explained that paternity tests have a significant legal impact when it comes to establishing child custody and support.
"In a contested paternity case, a party must submit to genetic tests at the request of any other party. If the father could be one of several men, each may take a genetic test to determine paternity. There are several different ways to establish whether an alleged father is the natural and legal father of the minor child, such as the use of paternity blood tests and DNA paternity tests," stated
The Accuracy of A DNA Test
Many people often wonder how accurate is DNA paternity testing? "A proper DNA paternity testing is reputedly 99.99 percent or higher." This is according to Salami Abiodun, Senior Geneticist with DNA Centre for Paternity Test, Nigeria.