Interviews | 17 July 2008 14:00 CET

‘Why I dumped my wife for Ini Edo’ – Phillip Ehiagwina

Phillip Ehiagwina, the heartthrob of Nollywood actress, Ini Edo, will not let anything stand in the way of his new found happiness with the screen diva. Miffed by all the 'info' given out to the press by his angry ex-wife, Ruth Okoro, he has decided to come clean and tell his side of his story

You are currently engaged to one of Nigeria's hot selling actresses, Ini Edo. Kindly tell us how you met her

Ini and I met during one of my visits to Nigeria. I saw many good qualities in her, we clicked and now, the rest is history.

Most people have the impression that Ini was friends with your ex-wife, Ruth and that she snatched you from her.

I'm hearing that for the first time. They have never been friends. It was just recently that Ini informed me that this was the same girl who reached out to her on her myspace page, courting her friendship under the alias 'Christel'. She told Ini that she would reveal her real name in due time.

This was as far back as January 2007. we have records to prove. So, that story is just one of her fabricated stories to get sympathy from the press. (Here is an excerpt of the mail Ruth, a.k.a Christel, sent to Ini on her myspace page on September 15,2007: “Hi Ini, I have information that you are having an affair with my husband, Philip Ehiagwina, who deceived me for a green card fraud and has a pending court case with the FBI here in NYC and Crime and fraud Commission. If I were you , I would steer clear as this may affect you ever coming into this country in future. You may be held as his accomplice in this case.

Information also reached me that he is flaunting flashy cars in Nigeria, cars that are supposed to be sold. Just in case he never told you, whatever he has today is my sweat; he is currently working menial jobs to earn a living. He is a sales man, working for someone and get paid a few dollars monthly. He has been deceiving girls all over the place, making them believe he has heaven and earth, but in truth, I am the person taking care of all his responsibilities which he abandoned here in New York. Philip has put me through hell.

Took away my only unborn child by causing me to have a miscarriage at three months. He walked out of my life a week and few days after he got his green card. Got with a girl who he wanted to get pregnant and when she questioned his proposal, he came out open and confessed that he got married to me only to get American green card. His mistress in return got my contacts and told me everything. Even set him up and got a video coverage of his confessions and that is the proof I am using to make sure he goes to jail for his evil deeds. She called and told me everything that my beloved husband did to me after I gave up every thing to save this man's live while he was in Nigeria.

He had nothing when I met this man, but I don't need to go there. The God that save me form a deadly cancer and gave me a second chance in life will never let Philip know peace for all the evil deeds he has done to me and for taking away my only hope of happiness, my unborn child. And now he has the heart to go around spoiling my name only to cover up for what he has done. I am only telling you this just incase you had no idea. You are not the only girl obviously, but Ini watch your back so you don't regret, I have nothing against you but a piece of advice.

I heard that you might be pregnant for him, if it's true, good luck. Unfortunately, Philip is a cursed, am and whoever follows in his step is cursed as well. He will never know peace as long as God is concerned and as long as there is something called REPERCUSSION.

I called your manager and told her everything. You are a very pretty girl and should know how to respect your body and pray for the right husband. Do not be carried away by flashy things cause that could be deadly too. All that glitters isn't gold, remember. Philip is a devil in a human flesh. Have a blessed day, Ini from Christel NYC.”

We have read all the interviews granted by your ex-wife regarding how wickedly you treated her. Now, can we hear your own side of the story? Why did you leave her when she was supposedly ill and pregnant for you?

Let me set the record straight. I did not leave her until everything went out of control. Before I joined her in America, she brought in a boyfriend of hers to live with her. She called me Nigeria to say a 'male friend' of hers from Ghana was about to move in with her. I warned her against it, but she did not listen. The guy in question ended up moving in and her friend who shared the apartment with her was subjected to move into the living room. From what I heard, they lived like husband and wife. Sharing the same bed, taking showers together and your imagination at this time is as good as mine. How can a married woman do such a thing?

When I got to America in August 2003, I met her in the hospital. She was in a coma for two months as she battled with leukemia. I was cleaning her up with my hands. When the doctors said she had a small chance of surviving, I told them they were lying. I prayed day and night for her recovery. The staff at the hospital thought I was going crazy, but God answered my prayers. When she got out of the hospital, I was the one there to help her. Her friend, Ijeoma, can confirm all these things I'm telling you. I can give you her number so she can tell you with her own mouth. How was I wicked to her?

On the issue of pregnancy, what kind of man would have a heart to abandon a lady carrying his own child? I recall her saying she was pregnant sometime in 2005. this was right after she got back from Ireland. Before leaving for Nigeria, I made arrangements for her to travel to Ireland to stay with my elder brother as she was recuperating from her illness and I did not want to leave her by herself.

Shortly after she got back, she told me she was pregnant. My question was how? Ruth and I never had sex prior to her 'pregnancy', so how could she have gotten pregnant? The Bible did not make me understand that a second Virgin Mary was going to come.

We don't understand how you can be married to someone and not have proper sex. How is that possible?

Ruth had some medical issues that needed to be addressed. Let's leave it at that. Please, I don't think it would be good for me to put her business out there simply because of the present situation.

She said you dumped her just after you got your American papers, is it true?

That's a lie. When we got married in 2002, I meant to keep to my vows. Besides, at the time we met, she did not know the colour of the US passport. Every now and then, she would mention she was born in America. She told me she was brought back to Nigeria when she was just seven months old. All she had was her birth certificate.

Anyone with your best interest would encourage you to take advantage of your opportunity and relocate to America. I took her to the Embassy. She told me she had been turned back several times. Her father would not cooperate because he did not want anything to do with her, so we threaten to make a case that he abandoned her in Nigeria, before he obliged and sent the information the Embassy needed.

We got married before she left ( four years after we met). So, you can see that our marriage was not about 'pali' (papers). I had genuine affection for her, that was why I did everything I could to make her happy. When she got to America, things changed. How can a married woman leave her matrimonial home to strip in a club?

I recall an incident that happened when she found out I sent money to my mother. It was just $400. Ruth called the cops on me. When they asked her if I touched her, she said 'no' but I sent money to my mother without informing her. They said 'Is that all?' she said 'yes'. They could not believe it. Still, I endured because I wanted to believe she would change.

During the time we were married, she made several attempts on my life, both physical and spiritual. I remember and incident when I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and I saw Ruth standing and staring at me. She was crying. I asked her what the matter was and she said 'nothing.' Okay, come and go back to sleep. She was still sobbing. The following day, she came to me confessing that , that night, she was going to stab me to death and kill herself.

While she was staying at my brother's place in Ireland, his young kids at that time, they were about three and five. In the middle of the night, they would shout, “Daddy, Daddy! See Auntie! Monster, Monster, Snake! Snake! She was sharing the same room with them. This went on repeatedly, night after night. It took my brother a long time before he could share it with me. Now, please, put yourself in my shoes, u no go pick race?

The last incident that broke the camel's back was when I found out that she slept with my supposed 'best friend'. No man would take that, so I filed for divorce. She was not brave enough to come to court to defend herself. The divorce was finalized and granted on the basis of infidelity on her part. So, how did I dump her?

What about the story of her picking you from nowhere?

Are you reading the question the other way around? With all modesty, I come from a very comfortable home. I am the youngest of nine children, so my elder ones made sure I never lacked. Ruth and I met shortly after my graduation in 1998.

She met me living comfortably. I paid for her GCE exams and even took her to sit for the exams. When we saw she couldn't make it, I struggled to help her gain admission at the Polytechnic, Ibadan. I paid for her tuition and provide money for her upkeep. I was not rich per se, but I was comfortable to the extent that I could take care of her. There was nothing she asked me for that I did not provide. If I had money for it, I made it available to her.

At that time, she had just one outfit; she would wear it during the day and wash it at night, so she could wear it the following day. I changed all that. Even when she relocated to America, I was sending money to her from Nigeria to pay her bills. I met her in America earning minimum wage at a thrift store in New York. All her visits to Nigeria were funded by me, so I take that as an insult. Now, she goes around saying she is a top model based in New York and has modeled for Victoria Secrets.

I also heard her tell people she has worked with Beyounce. Na beans? I can go on and on, but I don't want to give the impression that I am putting this out now to get back at her. No! That is not the case. This young lady has gone all over the place granting interviews to tarnish my image and that of my fiancée with all her lies. It's not fair. Let the truth be told!

What is exactly your relationship with Emeka Ike and Jim Iyke at the moment?

I don't want to go into that.

How long were you separated form Ruth before you met Ini?

Two years

So, why is this woman so angry with you? Were you separated form her but still initiating sex?

Initiating sex with who? Ruth? With all these diseases we hear about today? If I left her because of her adulterous ways, why would I want to go back to her for sex?

Your wedding to Ini is coming up in some week's time, have you tried to reach out to this lady to make peace?

I don't have problems with her! She is the one fighting me when the reverse is supposed to be the case, because she deceived me. I just want her to stop asking her cohorts to contacts me. Less than two weeks ago, I was in New York with my wife's manager, Joy Onyeukwu, when I received a text message and the message was: “I hate your family because they can't advice you. Ini will bring death to you if you marry her. Go back to your ex-wife.” I showed it to Joy. I will give you her number. You can call her and confirm. So, these are some of the things I am dealing with. How can there be peace? I want her to know that my wedding will hold and no amount of threats will change my mind.

Ini has a controversial image, how have you been able to manage all the stories surrounding her?

The truth is that people don't know Ini. They just carry fake rumour about her and no thanks to some reporters who carry news without verification. I got to see a different side of her when we started dating. Now, we've had cases of reporters coming to apologize for the wrong reports they wrote about her. This year alone, we've had more than four cases like that.

For instance, one day we were home together, I received a call from someone who called to report that he had sighted Ini engaging in an immoral act with another female in Owerri. But funny enough, she was right next to me. So, I asked the guy to hold on and handed the phone over to her. Once she came on the phone, he hung up!

Early this year, a young woman was arrested by the police for impersonating Ini to extort money?

She was arrested and taken to “Area F”, Ikeja. AGN President, Mr . Ejike Asiegbu, was there with our reporter who covered the incident. You can call them and confirm. Tomorrow, someone will start a story that Ini collected money from him and did not show up. That is how these controversial stories start.

Are you officially divorced now? When did the divorce come through?

Yes, I am. The divorce was finalized last year. I have the certificate to show for it.

Many couples end up interwined in each other's careers, do you plan on managing Ini Edo or will she be involved in your business?

I don't intend to manage her because she already has a manager, but I'll be involved in her business because she is my wife.

Do you think you can handle the fame and attention from the opposite sex that comes with Ini's career or will you ask her to quit acting after the wedding?

Fame and attention from opposite sex will always be there, but I love and trust her, so I am not in anyway intimidated. I can afford to set her up in any business venture she chooses to go into, but acting is a career path she chose for herself long before I met her, so why would I want her to quit a profession that she enjoys?

From all the stories peddled about Ini, how do you both manage the issue of trust?

Like I said, I love and trust her and I know she will never do anything out of what we both agree upon.

Your first marriage failed and a lot of stories have been peddled that you were the reason it did. How do you plan to ensure that the next one does not fail ad well?

I wasn't the reason why the marriage failed. While we were married, she left matrimonial home to strip in clubs there in New York.

Gold is appreciated by those who know the value. Now, I have found love with someone that loves and appreciates me and I believe our union was ordained in Heaven. It won't fail. No one gets into marriage planning for it to fail. You go into marriage to nurture a life long relationship. As long as we stay strong and serve God faithfully, it won't fail.

What is your source of livelihood? Your ex-wife fingered you as someone involved in dubious business.

I export cars to Nigeria to sell. My business is registered in the State of Texas and I pay my taxes, so what is dubious about that? Talking about dubious, do you know that Ruth used my personal information to file for her taxes for 2007? I went to my accountant's office to file my taxes only to be told that my Social Security Number had already been used. We are divorced and she has no legal backing to do that. She went as far as forging my signature to get the tax done. Now, the IRS has gotten involved and they are investigating the matter.

Are you being investigated by the FBI as revealed by your ex-wife?

Why will the FBI investigate me when I am not involved in any illegal business? She is so stupid for saying that. The FBI will not tell you when somebody is being placed on the investigation list.

The other day, she had a male friend of hers call me, He said, this is the FBI, I need your address. I said, “What for?” He said, “They want to conduct an investigation on you and they need your address to write to you by mail.” I cursed him and hung up on him. How can FBI call you to get your address? Does it make sense?

We hear you have already taken drinks to Ini's family home, what was your impression of her family?

They are a great family! I can only liken it to mine and I am so happy to be part of such a wonderful family.

Will you relocate Ini to America after the wedding or will you relocate back to Nigeria?

Ini and I will both decide on that.

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