The South African ministry of home affairs has revoked the citizenship of Edwin Ijeoma, a Nigerian, over bigamous marriage.
Bigamy is an offence involving a person’s marriage to someone, while already married to someone else.
Ijeoma, a professor of public sector economics at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) in the Eastern Cape, is said to have fraudulently relied on a bigamous marriage involving a South African woman to obtain citizenship.
The professor, who had previously renounced his Nigerian citizenship, was also granted permanent residence in South Africa as a result of his marriage to the local woman.
According to Times LIVE, Ijeoma arrived in South Africa from Nigeria on a study permit in 1998 to pursue academic studies at the University of Pretoria. He also obtained a Ph.D. in economics in 2003.
He was reportedly granted citizenship in 2005 through naturalisation, but by 2007, he had divorced his South African wife over alleged inability to conceive.
He was then reportedly joined in the country by Anne Tomo, a Nigerian woman, whom he is said to have listed as his sister in two immigration submissions.
But he ran out of luck when officials of home affairs were reportedly tipped off that he had committed bigamy by marrying the South African woman. Tomo, in her application for permanent residence, was said to have attached a copy of her 1993 marriage to Ijeoma in Nigeria.
Officials were quoted as saying Ijeoma’s sole mission in marrying the South African woman was to acquire citizenship.
Mickey Mfenyana, the judge who delivered judgement in Ijeoma’s case at Bhisho high court, was quoted to have said the professor presented contradictory reasons for his bigamous actions — that he believed he was entitled to marry more than one wife as an African man; and that he presented himself as single because he was not aware that the country recognised customary marriages.
The judge reportedly said he failed to disclose the existence of his marriage in Nigeria on three occasions — when he applied for permanent residence, when he got married in the country, and when he applied for citizenship.
Ijeoma was said to have told the court he obtained a permanent residence permit because of his “good and sound character”, rather than his marriage.
Meanwhile, the professor is also said to be currently under suspension from the University of Fort Hare.