Linda Ikeji Sholaye Jeremi - Linda Ikeji introduces her son and finally reveals the identity of her "baby daddy", but is a child custody battle ahead?

Linda Ikeji introduces her son and finally reveals the identity of her “baby daddy”, but is a child custody battle ahead?

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Citing the need to be transparent for the “young girls who look up to (her)”, Nigerian celebrity gossip blogger Linda Ikeji took to her blog within the past 24 hours to reveal images of her toddler son and share the identity of his father, Sholaye Jeremi. She did not stop there. In what can best be described as an exposé,  she also revealed the details of her relationship with her “baby daddy” including his treatment towards her. “He treated me with so much hate and aggression that I and my family had to cut him off completely,” she said. “…this one is done and dusted. It’s just Jayce and I now moving forward…,” she concluded.

Before you read relevant excerpts from her very long exposé, here are my thoughts about her action:

  1. Linda Ikeji claims she is revealing the identity of her baby daddy and the details of their relationship because of the“girls who look up to (her).” I don’t believe her. I believe she simply made a preemptive move because someone else was ready to spill the details of her relationship with her baby daddy. Knowing this, Ikeji beat the person to the publishing button and in doing so sent a clear message that she controls her narrative, and is the one to primarily profit from her story, not the other way around. 
  2. In addition, I believe Ikeji published the identity of her baby daddy because she realized she had to avoid losing total credibility with her audience. This is because her audience was holding her feet to the fire and calling her out on her hypocrisy of outing countless celebrity “baby daddies,” but concealing the identity of her own when she became the story. Ikeji has a long history of revealing the identities of celebrity baby daddies and making the “baby mamas,” who were anonymous everyday Nigerian young women, an immediate global sensation and target for abuse, mockery, and ridicule. To date, while many of these celebrity daddies have been able to move on with their lives, the same cannot be said for these women who lost their privacy and continue to be ridiculed and shamed by society. 
  3. Linda Ikeji shared detailed private information about her relationship with her baby daddy and painted him in a negative light. I believe she also did this to send a warning to him, and his family, as to the measures she is willing to take to fight him should he decide he wants to have a presence in the life of their child, or give her any trouble. Indeed, she notes that he told her during their on and off relationship prior to getting her pregnant that what “scared him off” from a commitment with her was her “public life.” She said, “he claims he’s a private business man and didn’t want the attention being with (her) would bring…” So it is particularly interesting that despite her knowledge of his phobia for being in the limelight, she deliberately shared private details of their relationship.
  4. In her narrative, Linda Ikeji seems to be convinced that she has the final say when it comes to the custody and access to their child. She doesn’t. While Nigerian laws sadly do not seem to work for the poor, when it comes to the wealthy, the story is different. In her very long exposé, Ikeji took the time to let us know that she was a billionaire and so was her baby daddy, by Nigerian standard. What this means is that unless her baby daddy has signed his legal right away as the father of their child, there is a potential custody battle hovering over her head, should he choose to exercise his parental right.
  5. Further, I believe that you cannot expose a Nigerian/African man to millions globally when he has been explicit he wants a private life, portray him negatively to his own people, embarrass his family, drag his reputation in the mud, hit him in the pocketbook by undermining his existing and potential business associations, say you have “cut him off completely” and going forward it is now you and your son and not expect him to fight back. A clear example of this is the case of Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh v. Olakunle Churchill.
  6. I have said this too many times to count. In Nigerian society, no matter how wealthy Linda Ikeji gets, gossiping as a profession is not respected, at least not yet. Further, in the case of her baby daddy, even if he wanted to “wife her,” for the ethnic group he comes from, respect is a very big deal. So he knows that if he “wifed” her, she will still not be respected because of her profession, and by extension, he too as her husband cannot and will not be respected. That is a big deal in a society and tribal group where respect is everything. Her choice is to a) shut down her blog, and focus on her new ventures in television, or b) pray and hope for a man who can handle her profession as a gossip blogger. But truthfully, no matter how liberal her potential husband is, that is a very tall order to ask anyone to bear. Gossiping, globally, is something most people do but condemn because it is seen as an inherently evil thing to do. 
  7. My point above about expecting her baby daddy to fight back brings me to a discussion on child custody under Nigerian law where the parents are unmarried i.e. have a child out of wedlock.  Under Nigerian customary law, custody of the child belongs to the mother (and her family) if the father is not claiming the child. However, if the father steps forward and claims the child, then the customary courts will look to see whether the father has complied with the customary law requirements that would allow him access or custody to the child. This is where Linda Ikeji’s statement in her post about her baby daddy’s actions become important. She claims he had “agreed” with her father to “a traditional wedding but he didn’t follow through.” If he didn’t follow through, then under customary law, the general rule is that he is not allowed access or custody of their son. However, this rule is not set in stone and is fact-specific i.e. based on a case by case basis.  So it all depends on the facts, and right now we only have one version of the facts, her own. Further, if the matter cannot be resolved under customary law, the parties can petition the  Nigerian high courts to help them resolve the issue. The Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003 would govern the custody matter ina high court. By the way, Nigeria lawyers who specialize in Family law, please feel free to jump in the comment section and chime in on custody cases involving unwed mothers.
  8. Ikeji should thank me for this PR crisis management freebie. I think right now, her best bet is to ditch the “girls to look up to” route and focus in on women and girls in her exact situation i.e. unwed mothers who have children out of wedlock. Unlike Ikeji who has the cushion of money to protect her, a little bit, from societal ridicule and shaming, these women don’t. In fact, her blog has contributed to the ousting, and shaming of unwed mothers in Nigeria. So, this is a time for her to cause a big paradigm shift for unwed mothers by channeling her energy towards them and advocating for their financial independence, dignity, and self-respect in Nigerian society. I find her statements about “having plans for girls” in Nigeria condescending. She should take those plans and give to unwed mothers (girls included).
  9. Can Ikeji stop with the “God” stuff in her entire post already? I often wonder why we as Christians tend to claim God orchestrated a negative outcome/demise in our lives when we leave God out of the decision making in the first place? This paints a picture of God that gives God a bad reputation to suit our own selfish needs. Let’s stop doing this.  The Bible does not sanction sex before marriage, even if you are afraid of being “40,” “single” and “dealing with infertility” issues like Ikeji claims were her motive. Her statement, by the way, is callous and insensitive. At 38 she had her child under 3 minutes but thinks other women, in the most populated country in Africa where women routinely have children past 40, will have infertility issues. Okay, Ms. Linda. Anyway, God did not ask Linda Ikeji to have sex with her baby daddy especially while allegedly preaching celibacy. So she should just own her mistakes and move on.
  10. Finally, I find it interesting that Ikeji gives such grace, mercy, and forgiveness to herself but turns her baby daddy into a villain. Not once does she mention any character flaw, or issues she brought to the table that contributed to the relationship going south. She was simply a saint and this terrible guy just showed up, knocked her up and disappeared. Common! Folks, Linda came with her emotional baggage, her baby daddy came with his own, it didn’t work out, a child was produced in the process. It is what it is. It is not by force to marry. Now, the focus should be on the best interest of the child and each party acting like mature adults.

Read excerpts of Linda’s story.

“Meet my son Jayce…and yes, Sholaye Jeremi is his dad!

Two days before my 38th birthday on September 17th, I welcomed my first child, my son, Jayce. I look at him and I wonder why I waited so long to have a child. I’ve never known love like this. I literally have tears in my eyes every time I look at him. I can’t believe he came out of me. He is by far my greatest blessing and I’m looking forward to navigating him through life!

Now to the reason why you are reading this. I argued with myself for a long time whether to put this out or not…and finally decided it was a story I wanted to share. I’ve always been open about my life but I’m sharing details about my personal life mostly because of the girls who look up to me. The girls I have mentored, mentoring right now and plan to mentor in the future. I’m very particular about our young girls and I have personally tried over the years to be an example in some way; tried to teach these girls how to fight for their dreams, how to live right and do right and then I go and have a child out of wedlock and that must be a little confusing to some of them and especially with so many untruthful stuff out there about me…”

Full story here.

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