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Special master to attend Nigerian father’s hearing

Posted by By Peggy Wright, Daily Record on 3/8/2002 1:09:28 PM

The fate of Longy Anyanwu, who has spent almost five years in the Morris County jail under pressure to disclose his daughter’s whereabouts in Nigeria, will be argued in court today, a week after a judge spoke to the teenager by telephone from the African nation.

Superior Court Judge Salem V. Ahto, sitting in Morristown, has asked East Orange attorney Francis Asokwu Sea to be at the hearing along with attorneys representing Anyanwu and his estranged wife, Edith Anyanwu of Dover.

At Ahto’s request, Sea spent nearly a month in Nigeria as a court-appointed special master. He located the Anyanwus’ daughter, Uchechi, 16, who has been living with Longy Anyanwu’s sister and brother-in-law.

Spoke by phone

Last week, the girl, in Sea’s presence, spoke to Ahto by telephone and said she wanted to finish high school in Nigeria, to take a college aptitude test and then to come to America and live with her father.

Michael K. Furey, one of the father’s attorneys, wanted Ahto to free Longy Anyanwu last week because the daughter had been located. Edith Anyanwu’s lawyer, Thomas Snyder, said he believes that the child should be physically produced in the United States and the mother given the opportunity to meet with her.

Snyder said he feared that the girl, so long apart from her mother and living with her father’s relatives in Nigeria, likely had been "brainwashed" against her mother.

Traveled to Nigeria

The Anyanwus traveled to Nigeria in 1997, but in the republic the parents had a falling-out. The mother returned alone to New Jersey to seek a restraining order and custody of Uchechi, as well as a second daughter, Ogechi, 10. Ogechi later died in the country. The father returned to Morris County alone shortly after his wife and was jailed when he refused a court order to produce the girls.

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