I am Elvis Kwesi Asamoah, the father of Ethan-James Asamoah, and my attention has been brought to a false publication on the front page, and pages 2 and 4, of ?The Herald (edition 022/20), dated Monday, 2nd March – Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020, titled “Jubilee House man uses soldiers to ‘kidnap’ British boy??”. After perusing the aforementioned article thoroughly, and taking account of the information contained therein, I considered it prudent to pen this rejoinder.
I am domiciled in the United Kingdom, a country in which I live and work. Whilst in the United Kingdom, I met Ms. Ellen Tetteh Agbo, with whom I entered into a relationship.
In the course of our relationship, we had a son (i.e. Ethan-James Asamoah) in the United Kingdom; Ms. Agbo and I raised Ethan-James jointly, until our relationship ended shortly after his birth. Ms. Agbo and I never married, however after the termination of our relationship, there was a mutual agreement between us to have joint custody of our child, and we made these decisions while residing in the United Kingdom (i.e. where Ethan-James was born).
Prior to our separation, and on several occasions thereafter, Ms. Agbo and I had many discussions regarding our son’s quality of life; we decided to remain in the United Kingdom in order to ensure that Ethan-James had the best of everything, including quality education.
In accordance with our informal custody arrangement, Ethan-James was able to spend time with both parents (albeit separately). It was my belief then, as it continues to be now, that this arrangement was structured to benefit Ethan-James first, and Ms. Agbo and myself.
This arrangement worked so well that I was continuously present in my son’s life, and was able to spend time with him to allow Ms. Agbo to work more hours to earn more money for her personal upkeep. By the custody arrangement, Ms. Agbo and I had joint custody of Ethan-James, though the days of each week depended on our respective work schedules. The success of this arrangement manifested itself in our son’s development into a happy, bright and well-behaved young boy.
Our custody arrangement subsisted for years with no problems until late last year (i.e. 2019) when Ms. Agbo informed me that she wished to take a two-week holiday in Ghana with our son. Though Ms. Agbo, Ethan-James and I live in the UK?, we are of Ghanaian descent and still have many relatives living in Ghana.
Understanding Ms. Agbo’s wish to visit Ghana on vacation, I raised no issue with the trip, and only asked Ms. Agbo to inform me when she arrived in
Ghana with Ethan-James, and to let me pick them up from the airport when they returned after their two-week vacation.
In the course of the two-week vacation, I called Ms. Agbo to confirm her date and time of arrival in the UK, in order for me to pick them up from the airport (as we had agreed prior to her departure); it was at this point that I discovered that I had been deceived.
During the aforementioned call, Ms. Agbo informed me that she had decided to relocate to Ghana with Ethan-James, thus they would not be returning to the UK. As a father who loves, and wants only the best for his son, I was shocked that Ms. Agbo had not only decided to excuse me from our son’s life without any prior discussion, but had also curtailed his education in a good school in which he had been enrolled in the UK.
I was also shocked that considering the young age of our son, and his need for the presence of both parents to nurture and guide him, his mother would unilaterally decide to take him away from everything he knows.
In consideration of our amicable arrangement prior to Ms. Agbo’s decision to relocate Ethan-James, and bearing in mind that it was in our son’s best interest for us to maintain a cordial relationship, I tried to advise Ms. Agbo against the path she had taken.
My pleas for the return of our son to his country of birth were ignored, thus, realizing that Ms. Agbo would not return to the UK with Ethan-James, I informed her that per the existing UK laws, it was prohibited for a parent to remove a child from the country without the consent of the other parent for more than twenty-eight (28) days. I also pointed out that the breach of these provisions amounted to parental abduction, however Ms. Agbo continued to resist my pleas, and became verbally abusive in our conversations.
I came to the realization that this issue could not be resolved amicably, thus I reported the abduction of my son to the authorities in the UK (i.e. the Met Police); the reference number for my report is CAD 3358.
The Police launched their investigation, in the course of which Ms. Agbo’s benefits (which she was still receiving despite her relocation) were suspended. Any media house interested in knowing the truth of this matter is at liberty to contact the Police in the UK to verify these facts.
In my conversations with Ms. Agbo, I expressed my willingness to withdraw my complaint to the Police in favour of an amicable resolution if she were to return Ethan-James to the UK; once again, this offer was refused. Following my report to the Police and the suspension of her benefits, Ms. Agbo became unnecessarily insulting, and then abruptly blocked all channels of communication between my son and I. This blockade continued for weeks, and though the Christmas and New Year seasons are times for families to come together, I was not even permitted to speak to my son on these dates.
On 15th January, 2020, to my surprise, Ms. Agbo contacted me. I had hoped that she had done so to inform me that she had reconsidered her decision to block me from my son’s life, or better still, would be returning Ethan-James to the UK, however Ms. Agbo only called to ask for money. I pleaded with her to allow me to speak to my son, and days later (i.e. 19th January, 2020), she finally acquiesced. After months of not hearing my son’s voice, I was able to speak with him for only five minutes, after which Ms. Agbo blocked me once again.
Finding this situation untenable, and concerned about my son who had till his abduction by his mother, been surrounded by the loving presence of both parents, I came to Ghana to find my child and to reconnect with him. Upon my arrival in Ghana, I went immediately to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at the Police Headquarters to report the abduction, however I was advised to take up the matter in the District Court.
Accordingly, I sought legal representation and filed for custody in the Adentan District Court on 13th February, 2020. On 20th February, 2020, Ms. Agbo and I appeared before the Court with our lawyers; unfortunately, the matter was not heard and was adjourned to 19th March, 2020.
A few days after my arrival in Ghana, I was able to locate the school in which Ms. Agbo had enrolled my son. I visited the school, informed the school authorities of what had transpired in relation to my son, and also informed them that I would pick up my son at closing time.
As promised, I arrived at the school at closing time, in the company of my brother-in-law, Mr. Kakra Kojo Duncan. Upon entering, I immediately realized that Ms. Agbo had also arrived to pick him up, and remembering her verbal abuse over the past moths, and knowing how confrontational she could be, I flagged down peace keeping patrol vehicle (Operation Calm Life)which was passing outside the school and asked the occupants to assist me by maintaining the peace as I picked up my son.
I returned to the school and was joyously reunited with my son for the first time in many months. Due to the security service presence, Ms. Agbo was cordial at this time, and we both held Ethan-James’ hands as we exited the school in the company of my brother in law?. Ms. Agbo was neither accosted nor harassed as we both accompanied our son out of the school.
Guessing that my son had missed me, as I have missed him, I asked whether he would want to accompany me to my home in Accra, which he willingly agreed to do. This was the home Ms. Agbo would stay in with Ethan-James any time she was in Ghana.
After Ethan-James and I got home, Ms. Agbo and her mother came to visit, and spent time with him. Despite Ms. Agbo’s actions over the past few months, I did not bar access to Ethan-James, and received her the following day when she, in the company of some social welfare officials, visited to ensure he was living in a safe environment.
Ms. Agbo’s allegations that I have failed to ensure consistent provision for my son is a fabrication of unforgivable proportions. I am, and shall always be, a loving and caring father to Ethan-James, and I have done my best to ensure that all his needs and wants are met.
Though my first and most pressing concern is the welfare of my son, and his return to his home, I shall also address the falsehoods regarding my behaviour towards Ms. Agbo. I vehemently deny the accusations that I have acted in a controlling manner towards Ms. Agbo on any occasion; though the relationship between separated parents can often be strained, I have always endeavoured to treat Ms. Agbo with respect. As a law-abiding citizen of the UK, I am aware that it is an offence to invade another’s privacy, however, were I inclined to have tapped Ms. Agbo’s phone or monitor her, it would have truly been impossible as we have never cohabited or been in any sort of relationship for close to five years, Our son is the only nexus between our lives.
At present, my lawyers and Ms. Agbo’s lawyers have almost concluded discussions for an amicable settlement over custody of our son; this adds to my puzzlement over the falsehoods in the article in The Herald. I am also unaware of any warrant being issued for my arrest, or any criminal complaint against me.
The accusations, allegations, falsehoods and fabrications which comprise the article, show only that the editors of the newspaper wish to use my unfortunate domestic difficulties to fuel a political agenda. It is my refusal to permit my son to be used as a pawn, which moves me to pen this rejoinder.
It is my personal opinion that any journalist worth his/her salt, would have taken the pains to fact-check the allegations made against me. I also believe that the ethical standard to which all journalists ought to adhere should have pushed the newspaper to be sure of its facts before casting aspersions, especially in any case involving a child.
In conclusion, it is my intention to return Ethan-James to his country of birth, and to the advantages his mother and I had planned for him. It is my hope that should any media house seek to delve further into this purely domestic matter, it is done with tact, and with the truth as the foundation upon which any article is written.