Busted over fake marriage

NABBED: Odera Ekwunife with immigration officials Lydia Motene and Blackie Mogashoa after he was arrested at OR International Airport. Pic: Elijar Mushiana. 14/04/2010. © Sowetan.


ABOVE LAW: A handcuffed Nigerian Odera Ekwunife, 40, husband of magistrate Mary Mokone was arrested by the Polokwane Immigration officers, Lydia Motene, right and Blackie Mogashoa, left, for allegedly fake a marriage certificate. He briefly appeared in Polokwane Magistrate Court.
NABBED: Odera Ekwunife with immigration officials Lydia Motene and Blackie Mogashoa after he was arrested at OR International Airport. Pic: Elijar Mushiana. 14/04/2010. © Sowetan. ABOVE LAW: A handcuffed Nigerian Odera Ekwunife, 40, husband of magistrate Mary Mokone was arrested by the Polokwane Immigration officers, Lydia Motene, right and Blackie Mogashoa, left, for allegedly fake a marriage certificate. He briefly appeared in Polokwane Magistrate Court.

THE long arm of the law finally caught up with a Nigerian who was sought for illegal marrying a South African woman.

Odera Ekwunife had been on the run since the discovery of his fake marriage to Mary Mokone, a magistrate at the Senwabarwana court in Limpopo.

The man, from Nigeria, was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport on Monday while attempting to flee the country.

This was after immigration officials in Limpopo had put his name on a V-list, which was circulated throughout the country to ensure his arrest. The list comprises people who are wanted for committing crimes and it ensures that they are not allowed to apply for any permit.

Though he was found in possession of a passport identifying him as Odera Ekwunife, the man's true identity is still a mystery. After his marriage to the magistrate he adopted her surname, Mokone.

The marriage certificate, which was obtained under controversial circumstances on July 1 2003, indicated that the man was registered as Odera Mokone.

But Home Affairs officials have uncovered two other names under which he was registered, including two different birth dates. The marriage was also found to have been registered fraudulently.

In one document the man was identified as Dike, who was born on January 5 1979, while in another he was identified as Odera Dennis Ekwunife, born on March 6 1970.

"But when he was caught on Monday his passport identified him as Odera Ekwunife, who was born on October 12 1970," said Blackie Mogashoa, an immigration officer in Polokwane.

The man appeared in court yesterday and he was denied bail. The case was postponed to April 28.

Mokone was arrested on March 26. She was released on free bail because she was supposed to undergo an operation.

She was not at work today when police came to question her about the matter.

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