A Nigerian woman based in the United Kingdom, Mercy Ogbedo who claims she was duped into a wedding with a billionaire, Moses Taiga who was already married has been ordered to pay him £100,000, as legal costs, a court heard Thursday.
Ruling on the case, Appeal Court judge, Lord Justice McFarlane said he had ‘real sympathy’ for her position. He said ''All the time the wife considered that she was married to her husband, he was in fact married to another lady.’’
He added that he could not allow her to appeal over a divorce pay-out because ‘‘There was no marriage on which English law could bite, but he would allow her to appeal against the order that she should pay Taiga’s legal costs.''
Trouble started for Ogbedo when she believed she had married Taiga, a shipping magnate in an elaborate ceremony in Nigeria where her feet were washed by village elders and a dowry was paid for her as a bride price.
The couple had twins together while they lived together, but Ogbedo then spent a decade pursuing the tycoon for financial support through the British courts only to be told she would not get a penny because their wedding ceremony was invalid.
Ogbedo went to the Court of Appeal Thursday in a bid to get the order overturned but failed. The court heard she had limited means while her erstwhile husband owned a string of London properties.
The pair got married in 2002, but Ogbedo discovered soon afterwards that Taiga had already married a woman in Benin, Edo State, Nigeria.
The court heard that having more than one wife is allowed under Nigerian law, but Ogbedo applied to the British courts in 2003 to have her marriage dissolved because of her Taiga’s behaviour and to force him to pay maintenance for their children.
The High Court ordered she should be given £300,000 a year but, Taiga went to a Nigerian court and successfully argued that their wedding was invalid, because of his church marriage in Benin.
The court ruled that Ogbedo’s was a ‘non-marriage’, which meant precisely nothing in the eyes of the law. The High Court then ruled it could not hand over any of Taiga’s fortune because he was never legally married to Ogbedo and that she should pay most of his legal costs.
Her lawyers branded that decision ‘incomprehensible’ and said she should be entitled to a pay-out. Barrister Timothy Scott QC, for Ogbedo, said ‘‘The wife says she was duped. She should be permitted to apply for financial relief in England by virtue of that marriage ceremony.’’
Since his split from Ogbedo, Taiga has ended his 1974 Benin marriage and wed another woman, Yinka, with whom he has quadruplets.