The alarming statistics of paternity fraud in Nigeria – Are you your baby’s daddy?

In a recent resurfaced article originally published two years ago, a DNA expert said three out of ten Nigerian men are not the biological fathers of their children. The article no doubt caught the attention of many. And though the authenticity of the statement remains in question, it certainly provoked a conversation and surely reactions. I am certain a good number of men began to question their paternity, and those who had prior suspicions must have gone to take a paternity test. This information came right after the rumoured durex survey that alleged Nigerian women are the most unfaithful in the world; it seemed like the cake icing.  Matter of fact, the expert made reference to the survey, saying that the sexual recklessness of Nigerian women is the reason for the alarming statistics of paternity fraud in country.

In truth, cases of paternity fraud aren’t common in Nigeria, largely because they are either often settled out of court, or swept under the carpet. In other parts of the world, Europe for example, paternity fraud is a criminal offence, and one of the most rampant cases in court. Reason? Child support; women seize opportunities to receive a higher child support award than the biological father of the child can provide.  This issue is such a big deal in the West; there are activists and movements against it. In a country like Nigeria, as is with most West African countries, fathers cater for children born prior wedlock, or out of extramarital affairs, without the involvement of the court.

Credit - Paternity Test Nigeria
Credit – Paternity Test Nigeria

Another reason for paternity fraud is sexual promiscuity. Promiscuous and unfaithful women are more likely to misattribute paternity, honestly or dishonestly. An Australian based research did show that 40 percent of women and 60 percent of men in a committed relationship will be unfaithful at some point. And that 8 percent of women had multiple partners while in a long term relationship. It was also established that that fathers who doubt the paternity claims of their sexual partners are 20 to 28 percent often correct. The result of a research on the sexual promiscuity among Nigerian female undergraduates indicated a 79 percent agreement on the prevalence of sexual promiscuity amongst female undergraduates.

In a phone interview with Ventures Africa, Mr Ayodele Ayodeji of Paternity Test Nigeria said there is one case of paternity fraud out of every four paternity test conducted at the centre. “I will say one out of four paternity test cases turn out negative,” he told me. He also added that people of the east – Ibos, south-south – Deltans, and south-east, patronise the centre than the people of western Nigeria – the Yorubas.

The implications of paternity fraud are major, disrupting relationships, homes, and marriages.  Victims of this crime – father or child, stands the risk of depression, and mental health problems. A child victim is more likely to have self esteem issues and anxiety. When women make the choice to lie about the paternity of their children’s, they should bear in mind the misery and heartache these children may later be subject to. American film maker and actor, Tyler Perry, admitted to being hurt and disappointed that his late mother lied to him about the true identity of his father. He found out the truth at the age of 44 after taking a DNA test with his brother. His advice? “Some of you have secrets that your kids need to know. Let the chips fall where they may. For the peace of that person, let them know.”

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