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 high as UCHENNA INYA reports
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 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. “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 slighttellest 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. Okike, in a statement on his Facebook handle, accused Ozioma of living a lavish and wasteful lifestyle and aborting three pregnancies belonging to him. He was reacting to accusations leveled against him by Miss Ozioma that he had been physically assaulting her for over a year. While agreeing that they sometimes had disagreements, Okike said such disagreements never turned physical. He vehemently denied ever physically assaulting her.
He said: “Contrary to the statement my wife posted on her Facebook profile bearing Ada Uburu, which is currently trending, this is my story. “Let me first clarify that we dated for over eight years and she bears Ada Uburu with her official name, Michael Helen Ozioma, and another identity – Sandra Obi, which she uses to suit her purpose of identification at a particular time.
“Within these years, I have never on any occasion, irrespective of the level of provocation, raised my hand on her and this is because I respect and adore her,” he said. Okike further stated that “there was no such occurrence where I raised a knife, cutlass, and or harmer on her and it was shocking to read her fabrications in that regard. “Accepted that there is no perfect relationship, I can’t deny the fact that we sometimes disagree, but it never led to assault as she alleged.
“I make the above statements knowing that we were not leaving alone but surrounded by relatives which can as well serve as witnesses to how we lived while we were together in my house.” Okike said he was still in touch with Helen’s mother till date adding that “this goes to prove that she is on her own and doesn’t enjoy her family’s support in the destructive line she has towed.”
He also accused the wife of swindling him of his hard earned money and postponing their marriage four times before finally calling it quits. “I am certain that she isn’t the woman meant for me as she is more interested in tarnishing my image and ruining my reputation after swindling me and postponing our scheduled marriage for four consecutive times.
“To what gains exactly? Even after terminating three of my pregnancies without my consent. Why would a rational thinking woman keep quiet while I spend heavily on wedding arrangements when she was convinced she didn’t want the marriage,” he said. Okike claimed that Ozioma terminated the pregnancies because she never wanted a child before wedlock, which he accepted and respected her decision because of the love he had for her. “After paying her bride price in 2020, she took in and terminated the pregnancy at Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. That was the third pregnancy she terminated.
“I was pained and we had some misunderstanding and it got to a stage where my mother-in-law got worried if she could still get pregnant because of her series of abortions. “Be it as it may, when we went for marriage counseling, the church decided that her condition doesn’t permit holy matrimony but rather marriage blessings, this got her unnecessarily worked up,” Okike said. He said that the lady became hostile to him and got angry at any little provocation. “It was the height of her frustration. She isn’t what I bargained for after all,” he lamented. While noting that Ozioma’s accusations are false and a ploy to lead the general public astray, Okike said he accepted her decision to part ways. He however revealed that she was pregnant with his child and that the custom of Uburu, their hometown, forbids him from collecting the bride price till the child was born.
“This is someone I have supported financially even to the extent of opening a pharmaceutical and poultry business for her, facilitated her COVID-19 grants which she never gave me a dime from, rather she had her way and lavished it on her extravagant lifestyle. “I thank God that she is taking this direction and I accept and respect her decision. But telling lies to play a victim, is unfair. “She is having my child and the Uburu tradition and culture don’t allow that I receive the dowry I paid as she is pregnant for me, when she delivers my child, I will surely receive my dowry,” he added.
My husband battered me, chained me-Wife
In Abakaliki metropolis, a woman, Chukwuani Ngozi, a native of Ifitedum, Anambra State was allegedly battered by her husband, Uche Chukwuani, who is a native of Mmaku, Enugu State and chained to her bed. Ngozi alleged that Uche beats her at will. She said: “After our wedding in 2004, my husband said he was no longer happy with our marriage.
He said the things my father used and settled me as his first daughter when I wedded was not enough. He complained that it is only a flat of his three-storey building that my father used and settled me after furnishing it properly. “My husband said it was just a house property and the flat that my father was able to give me and said he needed something tangible like landed property or something that has document.
I told him to relax that his character will attract more things to us from my father. I also told him that as young couple, we have bright future and can hustle and make our own money and other property he is complaining about. “I told him that my father has boys and if this storey-building which he gave us a flat in, is to be shared to the boys, it will not be enough and some of them will not get.
I pleaded with him that it is better we hustle and get our own property. “My husband was embittered with my position. He was no longer happy with our marriage. He will go out and come in anytime he likes without letting me know his whereabouts. I didn’t know what to do since I have taken a vow and wedded. The vow made me to find it very difficult to walk away from my marriage. “Our marriage continued to shake and my first pregnancy came.
I suffered and carried that first pregnancy without my husband’s proper care. The second pregnancy came and it happened like the first pregnancy. The third one which I delivered twins was okay, there was no problem again. But any time my husband remembers that the house rents of this my father’s threestorey building is not paid into his account, he will not be happy with me again.
“My husband beats me at will, inflicts injuries on me. The one that led to him chaining me started happening in October last year after the burial of my father.” Uche in his reaction said he has been facing all manner of insults from his wife since he married her because he is living in the wife father’s house. “I have been living in her father’s house since we married because I couldn’t get money to rent house for us.
I continued living there and my wife refused to be bringing money for our feeding. Every time, my wife will be tormenting me because I was living in her father’s house. “I told her the reason she is behaving the way she is behaving is because I am living in her father’s house. She reported the matter to the police that I carted away our property. The police people told her that they can’t meddle into family matter. She went to family law centre and reported the matter. The family law centre told us that we should park out of that house we were living because my wife had no respect for me because we were living in her father’s house.
Women raise the alarm over spousal battery
Coalition of Ezza South Women Organisations in the state, had raised the alarm over increase wife battery in the state. The Coalition said the increase in the acts started in 2020 when COVID-19 pandemic started and that since that year, the acts have been on the steady increase in the state. Coordinator of the women Coalition, Mrs. Esther Uroh stated this in Abakaliki, the state capital during a one-day capacity building for service providers on Gender-Based Violence prevention and women empowerment organised by the coalition with support from Saferworld. “There have been increased rate of violence against women and children, incidents of rape, wife battery and other forms of violence in the community and that is why we have invited you people so that in your various work places, you can report all forms of violence to us,” she said.
Separation, way to go Lawyer
A lawyer with the Ebonyi State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Ijeoma Ajanwachukwu, has advocated for separation in marriages to save couples from deaths arising from domestic violence. She said separation for the main time was the way to go when husband and wife disagreement in their marriages reach its climax with threat to life.
Ajanwachukwu spoke at the Abakaliki Development Centre, Abakaliki Local Government Area of the state during training and establishment of End Female Genital Mutilation Community Surveillance Team in the local government organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
He blamed mothers for lapses in their homes and urged them to be alive to their responsibilities. “If your daughter who is in a marriage comes to you as her mother in your husband’s place to narrate to you what she has been passing through, don’t advise her to remain in the marriage especially if she is being maltreated by her own husband.
“Don’t tell her that marriage is all about endurance and that if you open your mouth and tell her what your own husband who is her father is doing to you, she will not believe it. Most of us mothers do this and our daughters who are in marriages will remain in hell in their marriages. At times, they will be brought back to us as corpses. “I am not canvassing for divorce in any marriage, but my own is let the woman’s life remain while the problem in her marriage is looked into for resolution. If the woman and the husband have reached the stage that a life can be lost in their marriage, the best thing is for two of them to get separated for the meantime.
Many couples do this and after a while, they will realise their mistakes and make up and become husband and wife again. But at that particular time the man and the woman don’t agree, if you force them, somebody will die. “As a lawyer who has handled cases where a woman killed her husband and where a husband killed his wife, it has happened severally.
But we women, we have failed the society. We mothers, we have failed the society because we are not living up to expectations. “It is the duty of a mother to know what is happening in her home. We always stay in our home and our house helps are impregnated. The one we have learned now is when the house help get impregnated, we move her to another place share, she delivers the baby and we sell the baby,” she said.
Efforts to end the menace in Ebonyi
Before now, the cases were under-reported in the state. Special thanks to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Abuja for collaborating with Foundation for Resilient Empowerment and Development (FRED) to establish a Gender –Based Violence (GBV) Situation Room in the Ministry which provides a GBV Dash Board for reporting GBV cases.
The GBV Dash Board reveals that between January 2021 and October 2022, Ebonyi State has uploaded 2019 SGBV cases making the state to rank first in the committee of states reporting GBV to the National GBV Dash Board of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs. The five highest reported types of violence in the Dash Board are; physical abuse – 660; child abuse and neglect 526; denial of resources 277; emotional abuse 257 and Defilement 227. Against this background, the state government has supported the fight against violence against women and girls in the state.
Wife of Governor Dave Umahi, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, has through her efforts led the enactment of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law in the state in 2018. To ensure quick dispensation of justice, she went further to seek for the amendment of five sections of the Law, 2 of which are sections 10 “that High and Magistrate Courts of the state will have jurisdiction to hear and grant application” and section 14 “establishment of GBV Court for the purpose of hearing and determining matters on gender-based offences in the State. “The amended VAPP Law was unveiled 25th November, 2022 which marked the beginning of the commemoration of the 2022 16 Days of Activism for the elimination of violence against women and girls in the state.”