Nigerian billionaire’s scorned ex-wife, Mercy Ogbedo ordered to pay his legal fees by UK court
A scorned woman who claims she was ‘duped’ into marrying a billionaire with a secret wife has been told she must pay the tycoon £100,000 by the divorce courts.
Mercy Ogbedo, 45, thought her dreams had come true in 2002 when she went through a picturesque marriage ceremony with Nigerian shipping magnate Moses Taiga. Her feet were washed by village elders and a ‘bride price’ was paid for her, before the couple drank from the same cup, danced and cut an exotic wedding cake.
But Mrs Ogbedo, from Finchley, north London, who has two children by Mr Taiga, a billionaire who owns a string of London properties, says she discovered later that her husband already had a wife from 1974.
For more than a decade she has been petitioning the British divorce courts for financial support from Mr Taiga’s nine-figure fortune.
But last year a divorce judge ruled that despite the mother of two being ‘of limited means’, she could not be awarded a maintenance from Mr Taiga because he had their marriage voided in Nigeria.
Instead she was ordered to pay £100,000 towards his legal bills.
Challenging that ruling, her barrister, Timothy Scott QC, said the former couple’s lavish 2002 ceremony had ‘duped’ her into thinking she was a lawfully wedded wife.
The barrister told Appeal Court judge Lord Justice McFarlane that soon after her ‘wedding’ she discovered that 28 years previously Mr Taiga had married another woman in church in Benin.
‘In March 2002 Mrs Ogbedo and Mr Taiga entered into a customary marriage in Nigeria, which would have been valid but for the husband’s prior marriage. The wife says she was duped,’ the QC said.
‘She should be permitted to apply for financial relief in England by virtue of that marriage ceremony,’ he added.
Mr Taiga, who is also a Grandmaster in the Nigerian arm of the Freemasons, has been pursuing parallel proceedings in the African courts.
Last year a Nigerian court found that the 2002 ceremony was not just invalid but a ‘non-marriage’ and she has no rights over his fortune.
The Court of Appeal in London has refused to overrule that decision, although Lord Justice McFarlane said he had ‘real sympathy’ for her predicament and has given her the right to appeal paying his £100,000 legal bill in the latest hearing.
The full hearing of Mrs Ogbedo’s challenge to the costs order will take place at a later date.
Since splitting up with Mrs Ogbedo, Mr Taiga has ended his 1974 marriage and married a third woman, Yinka Taiga – with whom he has quadruplets.