Olakunle Churchill is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the Chairman, Big Church Haven Limited and BIG Church Entertainment, which he launched in 2007. Many will always remember his Big Church Foundation’s visit to IDP camps in Borno with relief materials. He has done many more of such charity work of recent. Churchill is also involved in youth empowerment projects across the states of the federation. He has won hearts with his numerous charity works. He has also been in the news for some time now, because of his court case with his estranged wife, Nollywood actress, Tonto Dike. Churchill shares his charity story and the battle for his son with Azuka Ogujiuba
You’ve been very frequent in Ondo State, where you recently launched a youth empowerment initiative. Could you shed some light on this project?
Basically, my 36,000 youth empowerment project is an initiative aimed at providing a platform for youths to be industrious, relevant and economically valuable to the growth and development of the entire nation. The project has commenced in Ondo State and the brand will continue across all the 36 states in Nigeria.
You have also been championing a Lassa fever intervention programme?
Yes. The Lassa fever intervention programme has been a huge success, especially when we have to evaluate how much impact it has made since the programme was officially flagged-off few years ago. The programme is doing well enough.
Are you eyeing a political office in your state with these your charity projects?
Well, leadership and political engagements are decisions made by the people. The Ondo people have indeed issued me a courtesy call to service, and that’s why I am here in Ondo State to lead my people, promote my people, develop my people and empower the people of Ondo State.
You’ve made similar intervention with safety management when you reached out to the Fire Service in Abuja, how have you been funding these projects?
We fund these projects with a 10 per cent budget from every profit made by Big Church Group. This is a promise I made to myself while growing up. So, from my Safety Management project, through the Physically Challenged Initiative and the 36,000 Youth Empowerment programme, we funded them without interventions from local or international bodies.
How well has your real estate business fared especially now that many claim low patronage in the business?
My real estate business has fared well in recent times. Regardless of the challenges faced in Nigeria. My real estate is global and we are actually making headway, significantly in Switzerland and Ghana.
Your life seems to revolve round business and philanthropy, what other things excite you?
Well, maybe tourism and entertainment. I think I also admire those variables a lot.
After the celebrated union with your estranged wife, Tonto Dike, many keep wondering if you will still give marriage a shot. Is marriage in the pipeline?
For now, there are no plans for that, but as we all know, man proposes and God disposes. That’s all I can say for now.
How is the relationship between you and your look-alike son, King Andre?
King Andre is my beloved son. I will continue to be the best father in the world to my son despite the storms.
If Tonto Dike returns and pleads your forgiveness, will you let her return to your home?
That is an issue I really refuse to discuss right now because I am less interested in topics that bother on controversy.
Your son recently celebrated his birthday and you didn’t see him. How do you feel about not seeing your son and could it be that the bitter and controversial divorce between you and his mother was behind it?
It was very unfortunate that I was unavoidably indisposed to celebrate with my son on his birthday. To be with your son for a special day like birthday is the wish of every good father but I was out of the country for a business trip some days before then. I must say I truly felt sad not putting up appearance and identifying with him as he marked three years. Well, my international business engagements affected my availability this year unlike last year when I celebrated with him in Abuja in his school with the mother.
However, I would not totally rule out the fact the divorce case contributed to my inability to see him before the birthday especially in his school as the mother instructed the school not to grant me access to my son even with the judgement of the court to allow me access and custody of his international passport. She also tried to make it very difficult for me to see him. I am a business man. I do not want all my emotions and life to be tampered with, that is the reason I have been taking it very cool and following up with the court and many people will accept that from the mother of his child in this country.
Even till this moment, the school still sends to my email my son’s result documents with his surname as Dikeh (King Andrea Dikeh) with his school fees cost but I had to ignore that. They refused to adhere to the court on the surname change. The management believes that the school is only answerable to the mother.Though, the issue is still in court pending when the judgement is made on the lingering case. In truth, I would not want to go deep into this issue for the sake of the innocent boy’s future.
Are you not worried about persistent negative allegations against you by Tonto Dikeh?
At first l was bothered but later the whole scenario became a movie script, where the executive director, is the producer, script writer and actor all in the name of bringing down and tarnishing the image of your ex, to the extent that people who were not part of our marital plans or who were not even in the know of our marital issues were hired and cajoled to concoct lies against me. She claims to be the bread winner of her family. Is she the Nigerians President’s daughter?
Is it true that you met Tonto Dikeh at a nightclub called Escape during your brother‘s birthday party, then you moved into her house where she was squatting you before marriage?
You mean squatting? This is ridiculous. Before I met the Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, I was already one of the most successful young millionaires in Africa. I met her at a night club, during my brother’s birthday party in 2014 and it was about the same time I acquired the latest Benz cars. Three months after we met, she got pregnant. I have never really stayed in Nigeria for too long, because I do business in Ghana, although I have an office at Ikoyi. She visited me in Ghana several times and when she broke the news of her pregnancy three months into the relationship, I decided to visit her in Nigeria. I had to visit her often, because she was carrying my child.
I have never squatted or lived with her and the only time we stayed together was after the birth of my son, which came with the approval of her parents, after I had completely satisfied the traditional requirements for her dowry. I flew her to the United States to deliver my child in one of the best hospitals in America.
She stayed at my family house in London few months after delivery, before she returned to Nigeria. On her arrival, I had already prepared a well-furnished exquisite apartment for us – this was the first and only times we lived together until the divorce. We only lived together for six months.
Still on the issue of squatting, it will interest you to know that Tonto will never marry or date a man who lacks prospects or is unsuccessful. She likes to live the life. We broke up in 2016 at a house I newly acquired for my mother in Lekki, Lagos State.
Our marriage was plagued with several frivolous claims of falsity, ranging from domestic violence to false allegations and all what not. I never laid my hands on her. I have never done that in my life before. She made up those things to discredit my philanthropic works. I am from a proper disciplined Yoruba home. I was well trained and brought up under the fear of God.
Marriage isn’t by force and so I encourage the entire public to shun the baseless sponsored social media propaganda which the actress has continued to fuel. It would eventually settle in the water-low.
It was recently reported that Tonto Dike was granted full custody of your son. Is this true?
Well, that was a sponsored publication from a cheap blackmailing blogger. It is not only false but absolutely misleading. Following an in-dept investigation by my legal team, it was revealed that there was no such judgement granted as the fake information which emanated from one blogger ‘Cutie Juls’, was a desperate move to defame my personality. This has been a continuous occurrence in the past three years to blackmail and justify the bidding of her paymaster.
It’s important to note also that my legal team has debunked and discredited the false publication of the alleged judgement by a customary court in Abuja granting my ex-wife full custody of our son. This was made known through an official disclaimer that stated that the frivolous report was just a mere attempt to distract me and create baseless relevance. Interestingly, the standing court judgement ordered that all documents of our son must bear the father’s surname by right and that the international passport of King Andrea must be kept in the bank and shall not be released except with a written consent of both parties. But she violated the court order by fraudulently obtaining another passport for my son bearing her surname to fly the little boy outside the country. This illegal acquisition of fresh passport for King Andrea with ‘Dikeh’ as a surname, is not only illegitimate but against the instruction of the court.
The public is by the disclaimer of my lawyers advised to disregard the fake news making the rounds on social media about the full custody of King Andrea Churchill granted by the court as it’s not only misleading but geared towards scoring cheap social relevance.
If you have to change anything about yourself, what will that be?
I am not God and I can justify why I have to change anything about myself; that is if I actually understand the context within which this question is asked.
What is your biggest treasure as a man?
My vision, proposed impacts and the life-changing testimonies I get from people who are beneficiaries of my humanitarian projects and Initiatives.