Odusanya, 65 and recently retired from the Department of National Defence, is now on the hook for $34,000 from a loan he co-signed and is frustrated by child welfare laws that block his attempts to locate the woman’s two daughters, who also spent time in his home.
He moved from Nigeria to Toronto in 1973, ended up marrying a woman from Nova Scotia and later began living here.
In the summer of 2012 he received a short Facebook message from a Nigerian woman who was in the area and wanted to meet him. He did not respond.
A short time later, he was at a beach picnic put on by the local Nigerian association when he was introduced to the same woman, who spoke of his hometown and some of his relatives.
“How can I explain it?” Odusanya said of the decisions he was to make.
He spoke of coming to Canada with nothing and leaving so many family members and friends behind. Meeting someone who, like him, is of the Yoruba tribe meant a lot.
He later talked with some family members in Nigeria and Texas and pieced together information that seemed to support her story.
“It’s a miracle,” he said of meeting her.
A religious man, he wanted to show his appreciation for all that God gave him.
“How can I say ‘thank you’ to God for his goodness towards me?”
Odusanya said he’s previously opened his door to Africans in need of help.
Because of Canada’s law regarding youths, the woman will be referred to under the pseudonym Mary Amah. Using her real name could identify her children, some of whom eventually came to Canada, moved in with the Odusanyas and later ended up in the care of the Community Services Department.
Amah had been staying with a local religious leader but Odusanya invited her to move in with him and his wife about a week after they met. She claimed to be a medical doctor, widowed with six children. She said she wanted to move to Canada but couldn’t afford the fees involved with obtaining a doctor’s licence.
Odusanya co-signed a line of credit for $20,000 and then another for $10,000. He also helped her find an apartment, furniture and a car and introduced her to some local doctors of African descent.
Amah left for Nigeria in January 2013, presumably to prepare her children to come to Canada. She’d started preparations for a daughter to attend high school at Halifax Grammar School and for an older one to attend Dalhousie University.
“She did all this legwork, she paid a fee,” Odusanya said.
That April, his bank manager told him no payments had been made on the line of credit. Amah was contacted in Africa and eventually sent $800 to the bank.
Odusanya soon started having trouble reaching her by phone or email.
A few months later, the bank informed Odusanya that the file was going to its collection agency. Months later, he was told the bank was starting legal action to recover more than $34,000.
In May 2014, he heard from one of Amah’s relatives that two of her daughters would soon be landing in Halifax. He was surprised they would show up unannounced but went to the airport and took them home.
The Odusanyas were able to reach Amah in Nigeria and she said there was an emergency that forced her to send the kids to them. She said she was selling her Nigerian properties and would soon be heading to Canada to take care of everything.
Because the fees hadn’t been paid, the younger daughter wasn’t allowed to attend Halifax Grammar School and she ended up staying home for about five months while the other went to Dalhousie.
The Odusanyas initially shielded the daughters from the likelihood their mother had stolen the money, but they eventually came to suspect the daughters were well aware of the situation. They got into a loud disturbance with the children and called the police, who removed the children from the house.
He’s approached Community Services in the hopes it can help him locate Amah’s daughters, but that isn’t going to happen.
“Nobody is doing anything for me,” Odusanya said.
He believes his own money was used to bring the pair to Canada and now wonders if his taxes are being used to support people that took his money.
Community Services spokeswoman Lori Errington said the department’s policy is to never disclose any client information to a third party in any circumstances.
“The safety of kids in our care would be the No. 1 priority for us,” Errington said.
However, she said they would co-operate fully with police if contacted about it.