Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 July 2008

Nigeria: Why Stephanie Okereke Ended Her Marriage

Kano — The star Nollywood actress and one-time nominee for the African Movie Academic Award (AMAA) for Best Actress, Stephanie Okereke, has cited infidelity and treachery among other things as the reasons why she resolved to put an end to her marriage with former Super Eagles player, Chikelue Iloenyosi.

In a divorce petition filed in by Okereke's counsel, Robert Bob Okoroji, before a Lagos high court, the actress claimed that she was fed up with a life of lies and that she has realised that she was deceived into the marriage right from the start.

Stephanie and her former footballer husband got married on August 13th 2004 in Lagos, but according to her, unknowingly, even at the time of their wedding, Iloenyosi was married to US based Ijeoma Mba.

The petition also pleaded with the court to order Iloenyosi to award the sum of N100 million as damages for the alleged trauma she went through. She stated that she was confronted by Mba and several other women with whom Iloenyosi was allegedly having illicit affairs.

The petition reads: "Cohabitation between the petitioner and the respondent ceased on January 14, 2007 after the petitioner was confronted by the first wife of the respondent, namely Ijeoma Mba, and so many other women with whom the respondent was still having illicit affairs".

She further stated that when she confronted him about his earlier marriage with the Ijeoma Mba, Iloenyosi did not deny it. Instead, he acted toward her violently, physically assaulting her.

However, responding to the petition, Iloenyosi denied the allegation, saying that as at the time he got married to Stephanie in 2004, he had already terminated his marriage with the US based wife since 2002.

He accused Okereke of hiring thugs to invade their home and cart away his property to counter the allegation that he fraudulently obtained huge sums of money from her.

Apart from the allegations of infidelity, the actress also claimed properties worth millions of naira, saying that when they were married, her footballer husband could not provide anything for the family. According to her, she was the sole provider of finances for the house's upkeep, which she did out of her earnings from acting and other businesses.

The petition further stated that part of the money alleged to have been fraudulently obtained by Iloenyosi was N4.3 million allegedly meant for the purchase of land for his brother-in-law.

However, Iloenyosi insisted that the money belonged to him, claiming it was the repayment of a debt owed him by one Jimmy.

Among other properties the actress wanted her estranged husband to return were a Mercedes Benz car CLR 500 valued at N3.5 million, a Volkswagen Passat 2.0 car with registration number, DP 182 GGE, valued at N3.5 million and a laptop computer valued at N150,000.

The rest, according to Okereke, were kitchen utensils, including a gas cooker, refrigerators, microwave oven, pots etc valued at N600,000.00, three pet dogs, household furniture and appliances.

Even at that, sources showed that Ileonyosi appeared to still have a place for the pretty actress in his heart. He asked the court to dismiss the petition and hold that the marriage sought to be dissolved was validly contracted. But eventually, he lost the case.

Presently, Stephanie is single and very happy with herself and what she is doing, even though she admitted that she felt bad that her marriage did not work but that wouldl serve as a lesson to her. "I feel bad that it did not work out, but I have no regrets. It was something I needed to go through so that next time, I will be more careful to find someone on my wavelength", she said.

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