In May 2023, 80-year-old former Education Minister Prof Dominic Fobih dominated news discussions when videos of his marriage to a 30-year-old woman went viral. What many did not know was that there was an attempt, barely a month before the ceremony, to halt his marriage.
Case against marriage
His two children Dr. Nick Fobih, Nicholas Fobih and ex-wife Beatrice Boateng participated in legal proceedings that were geared at getting the court to scuttle the planned ceremony. The two children contended strongly that the good old Professor had recently recovered from a stroke and was not making sound decisions. Ms Boateng on the other hand argued she was still married to Prof Fobih.
The children told the court the age difference of fifty years would weigh heavily on the then-proposed union and result in a nasty divorce. They accused the 30-year-old woman of engaging in a growing trend of younger persons marrying elderly men and then killing them so they take possession of their properties. They also accused the woman of engaging in serial infidelity.
“His investigations have shown that the 2nd Respondent is currently embroiled in three active romantic liaisons and that one of her alleged paramours currently resides in a property that the 1st Respondent has provided for her at Agona Swedru.” The court was told. They further accused the young woman of abandoning their father when he suffered a stroke. They pointed out that the family had previously been greatly affected by their Dad’s previous divorces. The Prof is said to have married and divorced five other women.
Prof Fobih response
Prof Fobih denied that he was still married to Ms Boateng. He explained that they were customarily married on 24th January 2015 and the said marriage was dissolved between the parties in the first quarter of the year 2020 at the instance of the woman in the presence of one Kweku Adarkwa and Mr. Joe, all of Assin Jakai as witnesses.
The High Court Presided over by Justice Bernard Bentil pointed out that the only basis of halting such a process was if there was an existing Lawful Marriage, a prohibited Decree of Consanguinity and Affinity and an issue of Marriage Age and Consent.
“It is clear to this court – and should be to anyone – that at 80 and 30 years of age, both of the parties to the proposed marriage are well within the age that our laws require for them to embark on such an -undertaking. The court also has no reason to believe that the 1st Respondent is so impaired by his recent illness that he is unable to understand the terms of or enter into a contractual relationship, including marriage,” the Judge stated.
He continued that the only issue that ought to be dealt with was whether he was still validly married. Justice Bentil found on the basis of evidence submitted that Prof Fobih had dissolved the said marriage.
“On the balance of probabilities, the court is persuaded that the 1st Respondent’s affidavit presents a more compelling narrative fortified with verifiable facts that show that indeed he is no longer married to 3rd Caveator. The Caveators’ affidavits on the other hand are empty and bereft of any substance to ground their claim that the opposite is the case. As a result, the court is able to conclude that the marriage between 1st Respondent and 3rd Caveator has been dissolved,” he stated. He added that it is not the court’s place to determine the age gap between partners.
“The court, however, is not in a position to give comfort to the moral apprehensions of a family who disapprove of a member’s choice of partner. I cannot, from the judge’s seat, convert their fears into a law, no matter how raw and well-founded those fears may be. It is not the court’s place to determine what age gap between partners is considered appropriate or not.” He rounded up his decision with a word of advice to Prof Fobih on the need for forgiveness “We can only ask the 1st Respondent (Prof Fobih) to forgive his son and nephew for they know not the power of love”