A Nollywood actor and his wife have sensationally told the police why they decided to sell their two-year-old son, Samuel Chukwuneye for N350, 000 to a Port Harcourt based woman simply identified as Ogechi.
The couple, though not legally married, had been living together. They were identified as Kanayo Awurum, 29, and Ugochi Kelechi, 28, both of who are from Ikeduru Local Government Area in Imo State.
Trouble started when Ugochi, who is pregnant with their second child, suspected that her live-in lover, who she claimed gave out their son temporarily to Ogechi, was planning to abandon her in Lagos. She alerted and confessed to the police about what they did before relocating to Lagos. Kanayo was arrested and handed over to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos police command, Ikeja for further investigation.
According to a police source, Kanayo, who is an upcoming Nollywood actor impregnated Ugochi more than two years ago and ran away. He returned sometime in October 2014 and apologized to her with a promise to marry her. Ugochi accepted him back and got pregnant again. When his resources dwindled, he convinced Ugochi to relocate with him to Lagos State as soon as they were able to raise money.
He convinced her to use their son as a collateral to collect a loan that will be paid back in three months. Unknown to Ugochi, her son was sold to one Mrs Ogechi who lives in Port Harcourt. Armed with the proceed of the sale, the couple relocated to Lagos and rented an apartment at Ikotun, Lagos. Two weeks later, Kanayo travelled home with an excuse that there was a project that he was called upon to execute. He left his lover with little or no money with the promise to return in two days. Days dragged into weeks and Ugochi was left at the mercy of the landlord and neighbours who gave her money for feeding.
Although Kanayo called giving excuses why he was yet to return, Ugochi became frustrated especially when her lover told her that their son, Samuel might not return again. She also learnt from the landlord, that her lover was making arrangement to collect the remaining part of the rent and send her packing. Ugochi confided in their family friend who alerted the police of the development.
Pleading for mercy, Kanayo said that he took the decision because of his quest to give Ugochi who he described as his fiancée a better life. “I met Ugochi during our secondary school days in Amakaohia Comprehensive High School, Ikeduru, Imo state. We became lovers and continued our relationship after graduation. Fortunately, she got pregnant in 2012. I asked her to keep the baby because I loved her so much and wanted her to be the mother of my children. I met her brother who told me what to do to legalize the relationship. Sincerely, I wanted to legalize it but, I did not have much money so I left Ikeduru for Owerri. I am a trained painter and was also fortunate to be allowed to feature in some Nigerian movies. During that time, I called her severally to explain why I had to run to Owerri. She was angry and refused to pick my call or see reasons with me,” Kanayo narrated.
In October 2014, Kanayo returned and sought the love and forgiveness of Ugochi who had given birth to a baby boy. “With the little money that I had, I was ready to marry Ugochi. I pleaded with her severally and luckily, she accepted. I made another attempt to ask for her hand in marriage and her family vehemently refused. They threatened to get me arrested if I dared to come close to their sister again. But because she loves me so much, we continued our relationship till she became pregnant again.
“At this point we needed to leave town before her family would notice that she is pregnant again. I convinced her to elope with me to Lagos where we will start our lives together till her family is ready to accept me as their in-law.
“I was already broke and was sourcing for loan. My plan was to travel to Lagos and contact my mentor, Jerry Leonard who is also an actor and film producer. All the persons that I met for a loan refused but another actor, Emmanuel (full names withheld by us) gave me the only way out,” he said.
The only way out given to him was to sell his two-year-old son and get quick money. “He told me to use what I have to get what I don’t have. Initially, I wanted to use my son as a collateral to get a loan but Emmanuel said that outright sale will be the best. He was the one who contacted, Mrs. Ogechi from Port Harcourt with the promise that I will pay him N50,000. I simply told Ugochi that the baby will be kept with one woman till we settle down. Since we were eloping, there was no need to contact any family member. Luckily, the woman paid N350, 000 and I gave Emmanuel Ibeh, N50,000.
“I contacted my mentor, Jerry and he was able to secure an accommodation for us in Ikotun area of Lagos,” he further said.
Kanayo insisted that he had plans to return and trace his son. “I know that what I did was bad but I did it to protect my fiancée. She will be an object of ridicule by her family if they discovered that she is pregnant again without a husband. I returned to Owerri when my brother called me that there is a big painting job. My plan was to also raise money to buy back our son. Meanwhile, we were having several issues with the house and I asked the landlord to refund us part of the money we paid. Unfortunately, I never knew that Ugochi had reported me to the police. I was arrested when I returned to Lagos to collect part of the money we paid for that house at Ikotun. I am sorry but all I did was out of love,” Kanayo said.
He claimed that he played prominent roles in several nollywood movies including Fist of Vengence, Destiny Child and Rough Chase.
Ugochi on her part said that she never knew that their son was to be used as collateral. “I am pregnant and he convinced me that travelling down to Lagos with a small child would be stressful. He told me that my son, Samuel will be kept in his sister’s house for about two months when we would have settled down. It was also his son, so I felt that whatever plan he has was for our own good. I never knew that he was having money problem. We just reconciled and he was taking good care of me and my son ever since he returned. He only told me that the process of settling down is very stressful.
“When we got to Lagos, I kept reminding him of our son and he told me that he would soon return to Owerri to pick him up. Towards the end of April, he travelled home for a painting job and left me with little or nothing to eat. Life was hard and I relied on the landlord, neighbours and his mentor Jerry to survive. I pleaded with him to return our son and he kept telling me that I should not be in a hurry. I was forced to confess to the police when I learnt that he wanted to collect back the money he paid for the house that we were living in. I felt he had abandoned me, that was why I opened up to his mentor Jerry. I am aware that he wanted us to relocate from that house but he was no longer providing for me,” Ugochi said.
On why she agreed in the first place to elope, Ugochi said: “ I was and I am still in love with him. I have dated him for more than 10 years and so far he is a caring gentleman. When I got pregnant in 2012, he asked me to keep the child. He also made effort to see my family but when he was given the list of things to buy, he ran away. I was devastated and refused to pick his calls when he tried to get across to me. He even sent his friends to me. My family protected me till I gave birth in November 2012. Sometime in October 2014, he returned and started begging again. I love him, so I had no choice but to accept him back. He was actually ready to marry me but my family members refused. They even sent my brother to their house to drop a piece of kolanut. What that meant was that they are at liberty to beat him up, if he dares to come around seeking for my hand in marriage. I love him and I am pregnant again. I cannot bear the shame for the second time that was why I agreed to elope with him.
“This was why I did not even contact my family when I was dying of hunger and it was obvious that my baby might not return. He actually called his mentor and told him that our son died in a car accident while they were on their way back to Lagos,” Ugochi further said.
Continuing, she said that she cannot believe that Kanayo could sell their son for money. “I miss my son and I want him back. He was fooling me all this while, but I love him.”
Describing Kanayo as an upcoming actor in Nollywood, Jerry Leonard said he was not aware of the illicit transaction till Ugochi confessed to him. “I am a Martial art instructor and also a successful movie producer. I know him from my maternal village, Ikeduru where I discovered that he had great skills in acting. He had featured in several movies of which I connected him to the producers.
“Sometime in March, he called that he wants to relocate to Lagos and pursue his acting career. As agreed, I got a mini flat for them close to the area where I live in Ikotun. He told me that he was coming with his wife. I signed as guarantor to secure the accommodation. I was surprised when the landlord called me that Kanayo was planning to leave the compound. He was the one who told me that Ogechi was stranded and comes around to beg for food. I intervened and called Kanayo who said that he had a project and would soon return. Ogechi then opened up to me when I informed her, that her husband (as he was made to believe) said that their son died in an accident. I was confused and not sure what my suspicion could be. We now arranged with the landlord to ask him to come and collect part of the money he spent on rent.
“I had some young men around who overpowered him. He confessed to me, pleading that he had plans to go back and rescue their son. I alerted the police and they came and picked him up,” Jerry narrated.
Confirming the incident, Lagos State police spokesman, Kenneth Nwosu said that the police is on the trail of one Emmanuel who was alleged to have initiated the transaction and Ogechi, the woman who bought the baby. “The Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti has directed the officer in-charge of SARS, SP Abba Kyari to ensure that baby Samuel is found and the other accomplices arrested and prosecuted”, he stressed.