A Brooklyn prosecutor is living the American dream, while his son sits a world away longing for the love and support from a father he barely knows.
Christopher Eribo, a veteran $90,000-a-year prosecutor in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, is also a deadbeat dad who left a son named Afoke behind in Nigeria, the boy’s mom told the Daily News.
“When my baby was 8 months, he said he was going on holiday to America for two weeks,” Ofunne Chizea said. “My whole world was turned upside down the day I realised he wasn’t coming back.”
Now Chizea, 45, is waging a three-continent battle to get him to pay child support for the now 18-year-old boy she says he abandoned.
“I’m speaking out now because I didn’t want to keep quiet any longer . . . I’ve reached the end of the road,” Chizea said from her home in Birmingham, England, where she and Afoke now live on government assistance.
“I’m begging him to take some responsibility now. I want Chris to be involved in Afoke’s life. I don’t hate him but his rejection for his son — I just can’t comprehend it.”
Eribo, 47, declined comment when he was approached at the two-story home he shares with his wife in Valley Stream, L.I.
Mia Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, said the mother has it all wrong.
“This is a man who is anything but a deadbeat,” she said of Eribo. “He has been trying to be a father to the son, financially and in every other way.”
But the mother has been keeping them apart, Goldberg said. The story Chizea and Afoke tell is far, far different.
“There is a call I wait for every year on my birthday, and it doesn’t come,” Afoke said.
Chizea said she met Eribo in Lagos in 1994, when she was working as a receptionist and he had a meeting with her boss. A stormy relationship followed, and Eribo was upset when he found out she was pregnant in 1995, the mom said.
Eribo “promised to look after me and the baby,” and despite frequent arguments, he was with her at the hospital when she gave birth and paid the hospital bill, Chizea said.
After he left for the US, “I was devastated and a little bit scared.” She lost her job when she was pregnant, and “I didn’t think I could support my son by myself.”
That August, Chizea said she got a letter from Eribo’s sister, telling her he wasn’t coming back and that she should sell his car and his belongings to help her make ends meet. The money ran out early in 1997.
Looking to provide a better life for her son, she moved to England in 2001. That same year, Eribo — who had obtained his law degree in Nigeria — went to work in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
The prosecutor sent his ex an email in 2001, saying, “I am quite aware of my obligations as a father to Afoke, and I’m trying to meet those obligations.”
“I crave only to be as good a father to my son as I can be, if you’ll let me,” he wrote in the email, which Chizea shared with The News.
Eribo came to visit his son once in London in 2003, taking him to McDonald’s and buying him a Playstation 2, but he never returned. She said he called only once after that in 2005, to make sure Afoke was okay after bombings in July targeting the public transportation system in London.
Eribo’s career, meanwhile, continued to soar. He handled successful high-profile prosecutions, including gun cases. He also tied the knot with a Nigerian woman in 2007 — and continued to ignore calls and emails asking for financial help from Chizea, the mom said.
Chizea said she spoke to lawyers in London about suing him for child support there, but she couldn’t afford their $650-an-hour rates.
Top matrimonial lawyers told The News she might have an easier time with the courts in New York.
Bernard Clair, who represented director Steven Soderbergh in an international child support case, said that in New York, a parent can seek child support until the child turns 21 — meaning Chizea still has three years to press a claim.
Experts said the mom wouldn’t even have to travel to the US to start support proceedings in Brooklyn. She can testify by phone or video link. And she can seek child support and other expenses under New York State law until her son turns 21.
Chizea said she’s weighing her options. Of his dad, the teen said flatly, “I’m disappointed in him.”
(New York Daily Report)