Insight

How rise in domestic violence is turning lovers to enemies, eating up marriages

In Nigeria, it is not strange to see a man hit a woman as a disciplinary measure and deep cultural belief. This is why cases of domestic violence are on the rise as UCHENNA INYA reports

Domestic violence takes many forms including physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. It is mostly committed against females, though it can sometimes go the other way and the common forms of violence against women in Nigeria are rape, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating, corporal punishment, among others.

Rising cases of violence

Cases of domestic violence have been on the increase, especially the physical aspect of it. At least once a week, there is a case of a man beating, maiming or killing his wife, and in some very rare cases, a woman dealing with her husband in like manner. The menace was very high in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted movements, making many people to stay more at home. At that time, women and ladies were battered by their husbands and fiancés. Marriages and relationships broke down with lives lost. The prevalence is now being further increased by the intersecting crisis of climate change, global conflict and economic instability. It is estimated that approximately one in every three women suffers domestic violence and Intimate Partner Violence from the hands of those who claim to love them. Most of the victims do not speak out about violations of their rights, as a result of nonchalance, insensitivity, and negative response from their immediate family and society at large. The Federal Government has taken legal proceedings against men who abuse women in several states. There is currently a push in the country for federal laws concerning domestic violence and for a stronger national response and support for domestic violence victims. Despite the effort to end the menace, the act has continued to occur in intimate relationships and marriages which in many cases have led to loss of lives, loss of some parts of the body, loss of means of livelihood and destruction of marriages/relationships.

Mother of seven recount ordeal

In Ebonyi State, a mother of seven in Ekwru, Inyimaegu, Izzi Local Government Area of the state, Mrs. Anulika Uguru, died following alleged domestic violence. The State Chairman, Human Rights Defenders (HURIDE), Sampson Oko Nweke, said the victim, who hails from Ndiechi Onuebonyi Igbeagu in the local government, reported a case of domestic violence to his office against her husband, Sunday Uguru on April 19, 2022. He stated that there was little delay in serving notice of invitation to her husband because of invalid phone number. Nweke said: “On 25th of April, 2022, I spoke with the deceased on the telephone in the morning, inviting her to our office for other actions to be taken. “After waiting for many hours in the afternoon, she didn’t come. I dialed her phone number which was picked by another woman who told me that the owner of the phone was dead. “She directed us to one village clinic at Sharon junction where I saw the motionless body of Mrs. Anulika. We went in company of a member of GBV Taskforce in Ebonyi State, Comrade Matthias Okinya. “The sight of the dead woman filled my heart with uncontrollable rage and resentment, I called the police immediately and a detachment of Police team came, but the husband was nowhere to be found. “We launched a serious search for him with the assistance of concerned villagers and later got him apprehended. He is currently in police detention while the corpse is deposited in the morgue by the police.” Nweke stated that the deceased husband claimed that the late wife drank some herbicide but does not know who gave it to her. Narrating the incident, the deceased younger sister, Chinwe Nwebonyi said that the elder sister was going through domestic violence before her unfortunate death. “The husband has been beating her with all kinds of dangerous weapons over the years. At a point, we had to bring her back home late last year, but the husband later came to apologise to the family that he won’t do such a thing again.” She stated that after the apology, the family allowed her to go back to the husband only to be called on April 26, 2022 by her daughter that the mother has been killed.

I lost my ear, because goat ate my husband’s rice -wife

While Mrs. Anulika Uguru didn’t survive her own domestic violence, Mrs. Chinwendu Mbam, a farmer and mother of eight in Okwereike Agbaja, Ebonyi Local Government Area of the state was lucky and has survived several battering by her husband. She has however lost one of her ears and part of her lips owing to the act and has filed a case against her husband at a resolution centre for family cases, popularly known as Family Law Center in Abakaliki the state capital for biting off her lip, ear and always squandering her farm produce and threatening her life. At the Resolution centre which is pet project of wife of the first executive Governor of the state, Mrs, Eunice Egwu, Mrs. Chinwendu Mbam accused her husband, Ogwa Mbam, of causing her grievous bodily harm, threat to life, always causing her emotional stress and squandering her farm produces at any slight provocation. At the Family Law Center, the woman called on the government to compel the husband to sign undertaking to ensure her security, see to the welfare of their children, pay for her medical treatment, release to her money realised from selling her farm produces last year among other demands. “I am the second wife of my husband, Ogwa Mbam, we are from Okwereike Agbaja in Ebonyi Local Government Area of the state. We have eight children together. But my problem is that every year, after cultivation of my farm, my husband will create disagreement between us, pursue me out of the house, eat and sell the produce with his first wife.

“This time around, it happened we planted all our crops and our children on 19th October, 2022 went and tied our goats near his rice farm. Rope of one of the goats cut and it entered my husband’s rice farm and fed on it. That day, I was not at home, I took my last child who was sick to hospital for medical attention. “When I came back from hospital, he told me that the goats that children tied feasted on his rice farm. I went there immediately and removed the goats there. He came back to tell me to leave his house to my parents’ house. He said I will pay for the damaged rice, which I accepted for peace to reign. But he insisted I leave his house. “He does this almost on a yearly basis so that he will enjoy my farm produce with his other wife. As I was pleading with him to forgive our children for letting the goat damage a part of his rice, he threatened to kill me and before I could understand what was happening, he grabbed me, bite off my lip and ear alongside my earring. “I demand that this court compel him pay for my treatment, release all crops they l harvested from my farm last year or the money equivalent and he should sign an undertaking to ensure my safety, start providing for the eight children we have together and to compensate me for the pains he caused me.”

Witness account

Corroborating her, the village head, Chief Nwogbaga Bernard who was present at the Family Law Centre, said he supported the woman to report the matter to the Centre because he was fed up with the defendant’s wickedness towards the second wife. According to Nwogbaga, Ogwa Mbam who always create problems to victimise the wife, had never abided to his verdict as the village head and pleaded with the centre to use stringent measures on him. “I have been the Okwereike Agbaja village head for six years now. In all the problems I have settled in Ogwa Mbam family, he is always at fault. This woman is very hardworking. In fact, God blesses her farm far better than that of her husband. So, I think their problem is envy on the side of the husband, Ogwa Mbam. “He causes problem every harvest season to send the second wife packing and enjoy her crops. Before the woman will come back from the suspension she will not have any choice than to start from the scratch again. I want the Resolution Centre to deal with him seriously and give this woman and her children peace,” he told the centre. Chairman of the Resolution Centre, Mrs. Elizabeth Nwali, could not go on with the matter following absence of the defendant, hence she adjourned the matter to a later date for hearing and ordered that the man should be served summons again.

Lovers separate after eight years of courtship

The love story between David Okike and Helen Ozioma which almost metamorphosed into wedding after eight years courtship went sour and became subject of discussion within and outside Ebonyi State especially on the social media. Okike and Ozioma were to be wedded in the church as husband and wife, but 72 hours to the wedding, the lady called off their impending wedding, citing domestic violence as her reasons. The lovers are from Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area, of the state. The wedding was to hold on Saturday April 16, 2022. The bride and the groom had shared the wedding cards and invited many friends, associates, relatives, well-wishers and others to attend the ceremony. Every arrangement were made adequately to ensure the wedding was colourful, but that was not to be as his wife cancelled the wedding. Ozioma apologised to her family and friends for any inconvenience her decision may have caused them. This was happening at the period a popular Gospel Musician, Osinachi Nwachukwu, died following alleged domestic abuse. Her death had invoked discussions on divorce with many bashing her Pastor Paul Enenche and the Church for doctrines which preach against divorce. The Pastor was also accused of knowing about the abuse and not doing anything to help her. But, Enenche in a video broadcast denied all the allegations saying that his Church has zero tolerance for domestic violence. The Pastor narrated that he only got to know of the Singer’s health challenges a few months ago and made every effort to get her the best treatment available before she died. Apparently because of this, Ozioma called off her traditional engagement and wedding. She took to her Facebook page to explain her reasons for cancelling the wedding which was to hold on the April 16, 2022. Both the traditional and white wedding of the lady was scheduled same day. Her dowry had been paid by her fiancé, Okike, who incidentally was her secondary school mate. In the statement on her social media which has gone viral, the lady accused her Fiancé, Okike of physically abusing her repeatedly. She expressed disappointment over the behaviours of Okike who was her secondary school mate. She a claimed that the maltreatment started immediately after Okike paid her bride price. She said “This was my secondary school classmate who I thought I knew to an extent. On December 28, 2020 he did the 1st and 2nd stage in my family marriage list which bride price happened to be on the 2nd stage which he paid. After he paid my bride price he started maltreating me. “2021 was hell for me that at some point I left home, after everything we settled around November 2021 which he promised he will never beat me again. But still nothing changed.

I reject toxic marriage

“This is my reason why I am calling off the Traditional Marriage (Igba Nkwu) and White Wedding ceremony between me and David Okike”, she said. While noting that physical abuse was not part of the agreement for their marriage, Ozioma said she has been going through a lot since the beating started. “This Saturday should have been my traditional and white wedding ceremony day. I supposed to be happy, but I am not. For couple of months now, I have been going through a lot. “I have been in a toxic relationship for over a year now. I am aware that this may be a shock to many people, especially people from my Home Town. My supposed husband hit and abuse me in (sic) any slightest provocation, just small misunderstanding without minding what condition I am into (sic). She said she was cancelling the wedding because ‘I have chosen me and I will not live my entire life facing domestic violence’. She said: “My supposed husband is full of rage, beating me with his belt, stick, broom is his daily routine. “Many a times he had lifted his hammer on me and this Monday last week just because of little misunderstanding, he beat me mercilessly and on the process of it he rushed into his mother’s kitchen for a cutlass, when I noticed he’s going for a weapon, I locked the door behind him which he forcefully opened, both his mother and sisters and some neighbors were begging him not to cut me with the cutlass. With all these things and more I am fed up.” While noting that the wedding was to hold on Saturday April 16, she apologised to family and friends for any inconvenience her decision may have caused them. “But I will not end up with a man who always promise that if I didn’t kill him, that he will kill me. I am still suffering from unstoppable headache sustained from the head injury he gave me three weeks ago”, she said. The bride who noted that the “bride price paid” will be returned in due time, urged everyone to respect her choices. But David Okike denied all the allegations leveled against him by Ozioma. Okike also rushed to Social Media like Ozioma to tell his own side of the story in the crashed relationship.

 

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