Many homes across the country have been turned into theatres of violence, hatred with attendant impacts on societal cohesion. As domestic violence continues to take centre stage in the country, there are concerns that the future of millions of children is being threatened with increasing cases of spousal fights. AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE (Abuja) reports.
At just six years of age, Chioma Amandi, now 24, a native of Abakalaki of Ebonyi State has experienced violence, deprivation and rejection. She was separated from her parents at six due to family squabbles, only to return to her ‘not too’ caring parents at 15 years of age.
Things got out of hand for young Chioma when she was impregnated by a man at 16 and kicked out of the house by her mother, and further rejected by the man whom she claimed was responsible for her pregnancy.
As if that was not enough for the frustrated Chioma, after giving birth nine months later, she packed her luggage and moved to Suleja in Niger State. After three months in her uncle’s house, Chioma was kicked out on the reason that she was no longer welcomed.
Her travails continued in misery as she slept three days without a roof and with a baby to tender to. As luck ran out on her, she was accepted to work in a small shop for a meagre pay. But that helped her to stay alive with her infant baby.
However, as she narrated to LEADERSHIP Friday, she lost the job and eventually had to call a familiar man whom she met earlier while working for help. Mr Obinna, as she called him, invited her to live with him and his girl friend in a small apartment, but sooner than later, things changed.
Her new host began to show interest in her and knowing what life had dealt her, Chioma said turning him down was suicidal since she had no means of survival. She had to return her baby to the village for safe keeping and returned to Niger State.
“I became pregnant for Mr Obinna, who first denied the pregnancy, but eventually accepted it after I left for the village. He came and saw my father and that is how I became his wife five years ago,” Chioma said.
As at press time, Chioma had eloped with her three children-two from Mr Obinna and one from her first pregnancy to elsewhere; first in Ebonyi State and to another town in the South South for fear of her life. She declined to tell LEADERSHIP Friday the name of the town.
“To neighbours, we were one happy family, but for me, I was doomed to die in the hands of my husband who turned me into a punching bag, starved me of food, basic needs of a house wife, and prevented me from taking a step outside the corridors of our house.
“In fact, in one of his assaults on me, he told me frankly that he would kill me and tell my parents a different story since its only him that will be alive to tell the story of what happened.
“He became a monster suddenly after I became pregnant for our second baby and it manifested the day I went into labour. My husband left me in the house for three days in labour until I cried out to neighbours who rebuked him before he reluctantly took me to the hospital for delivery.
“The N25, 000 medical bill he paid for my delivery further infuriated him, and turned him against me and my children. Life has never been the same for me as he got angry at me at the slightest provocation in the house. He would beat and strip me naked before my children.That, I have endured for years,” she said.
Against advice from a friend to poison him and leave him for dead, she waited for the day her husband went out of town for business and gathered her belongings, children and varnished.
On his return, Mr Obinna was surprised his wife had left without a trace and even after rushing to her Ebony country home, there was no trace of Chioma. Her parents were also shocked at the development as they had no idea of her sojourn.
“She is not picking my calls, my worry is for my children that are with her”, the worried husband told LEADESHIP Friday.
In his desperation to get her back, he pleaded with our Correspondent to put a call to the runaway wife to ask her to return. But on picking the call, she said, “I have made up my mind not to return, I don’t want to die in his hands.”
As Obinna is saddened by the eloping of his wife, Ibrahim Hassan, 39, a commercial farmer who hails from Okene, Kogi State, is celebrating his divorce from the mother of his three children whom he claimed wanted to kill him through fetish means.
After relocating from his hotel apartment five months after fleeing his house for the fear of being poisoned by the wife, told LEADERSHIP Friday that his seven years marriage was tortuous.
“It crashed after my wife and I couldn’t manage our relationship anymore. The disagreement led to serious fights between us that my wife threatened to eliminate me.
“She started dating another man and tried to poison me. In fact, I was saved by a little boy who saw her putting some strange thing in a meal she was preparing. I gave the food to my dog and the dog died after eating it. That alone scared me into running away from my home.
“Can you believe that she destroyed my businesses, and some of my properties to ridicule me? I was able to take into custody, two of my kids while the last one was too young to leave her side but I will surely take him back,” Hassan vowed.
Although LEADERSHIP Friday could not reach Hassan’s estranged wife as at the time of filling this report, sources told our Correspondent that the woman is a staff of a federal government hospital in Abuja.
Hassan told LEADERSHIP Friday that as a Muslim, he has divorced the woman and unwilling to marry again.
For Kalu Chuks, 32, a trader who hails from Anambra State, his Abuja dream was realised when he met the ‘love of his life’ Agnes Onuchukwu, a banker whose job then was plump. The love blossomed into marriage that produced two kids.
But after four years, the once blissful marriage turned acerbic with Chuks stripped of all he had in life, business and children. His situation became precarious to the level that the Church became his new abode.
His wife Agnes emptied the house, moved the cars and went to the family printing press in Abuja to evacuate the machines and even rented out the office before relocating to Lagos to her family house.
Kalu got the shock of his life after returning from the trip, a perfect timing for the angry wife to vacate her matrimonial home, and met an empty house.
While narrating his ordeal to LEADERSHIP Friday, Kalu said the worst of his situation is that he got a call from his in-laws that they were planning a burial ceremony for him to convince his little children that their father is deceased.
Although, Kalu’s explanation of what transpired between him and his wife remained obscure, he said, “I said I will not continue with her again because she was HIV positive.”
But he claimed he is HIV negative so are his children but contradicted himself when he told our Correspondent that his estranged wife has been a HIV positive person even before their wedding.
Not a few Nigerians have recovered from the harrowing incident in Abuja last year that saw the son of the former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mohammed Bello, Bilyamin, allegedly murdered by his wife, Mrs Maryam Sander, over domestic issues.
Sander, who is currently standing trial in an Abuja court has continued to attract attention of many who are still wondering what must have gone wrong between the high profile couples.
The rising cases of domestic violence across the country has got many worried as more children are impacted negatively, while families squabble for custody amidst war of attritions and physical attacks.
An Abuja based lawyer, Nathaniel Ojile, who is very familiar with cases involving domestic violence, lamented that only Lagos and a few other states have criminalised domestic violence in their states.
Ojile averred that domestic violence is on the increase even though only a few get to the public domain. He said there were plethora of reasons why domestic violence occur. “As I speak to you, I am billed to appear in court tomorrow over a case of a woman who allegedly attacked her husband with a knife.”
The lawyer opined that signs of domestic violence are often ignored by couples in their courtship days. “Most people are too much in love to notice the infraction in character, but it must show itself even when pretence takes over.”
While stating that there is no gauge to it and how it can be solved, he said there is no submission on the part of women caught in domestic violence while the men have ego issues.
Ojile said spouses must learn to discuss, admit wrong doings and have the ability to apologise because “it helps to water down grievances”.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Friday, a psychologist and lecturer at the Plateau State University, Bokkos, Mr Pam Henry Dung, posited that conflicts of identity in movies, films, social media and other modern technology are impacting on Nigerians and interfering in cultures and traditions.
He said Nigerians are beginning to lose their identity and “don’t know who they are and do not know the difference between fiction and reality”.
He added that some of the people caught in the web of domestic violence are not matured enough to get married and later find themselves in conflicts.
Dung advise that since spouses are coming from diverse backgrounds, “it needs patience and sacrifices to get the marriage to work”.
In his position on the matter, sociologist and don at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Dr Theophilus Lagi, put the blame on money and inability to live up to expectations.
For the men, Lagi argued that lofty expectations from the society tend to push them to become aggressive. According to him, it has a lot of effects on the men who often are unable to meet the expectations and end up venting their frustrations on their wives and families.
He said men want to be in control, “they are adventurous and aggressive”.
Proffering solution to the problem, Lagi suggested stiffer regulation from the authority on cases of domestic violence. He regretted that the police tend to look at the issue as mostly domestic and treat as such.
A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Vincent Udenze, noted that human beings, being the most sophisticated of the species in the animal kingdom, pride themselves as being humane creature which probably via evolution departed from the brutal jungle to establish civilized societies.
He expressed the opinion that the situation in Nigeria may be worse when one considers “our culture which promotes male dominance”.
According to him, any statistic in this regard therefore may be flawed because of gross under reportage as most women in the country are expectedly subservient to their spouses.
Wife beating occurs irrespective of racial, religious or socioeconomic background, he said.
Udenze agreed with other experts that societal pressure leads to domestic violence “any unpleasant occurrence ranging from frustration to pain may increase likelihood of aggression. It is worthy to note that uncomfortable heat has also been associated with aggression and violent crimes.”
He asked, “Can this be a pathway for possible increased prevalence of wife beaters among African men considering the uncomfortable heat their daily sojourn compels them to experience in a bid to earn a living?”
Husband abuse (though rare) occurs in frail elderly men married to younger women. There may be under reportage of such cases as such husbands fear the ridicule to which they may be exposed if the problem is made known.
Such men, he said, may fear charges of counter assault and feel unable to leave the situation due to financial dependence on the woman.
Factors such as substance abuse (use of alcohol, cannabis, etc) behavioural, cultural, intrapsychic and interpersonal factors are said to contribute to the problem of spouse abuse.
Throwing more light, Udenze said, abusive men are likely to have come from violent homes where they were either abused as children or witnessed wife beating (their father beat up their mother in their presence).
On the health implication on the woman, the expert said, “Battering is often severe and may cause rib fracture, limb fracture as well as internal bleeding and brain damage in some cases. Battered wives are usually dependent with about ½ of all cases having grown in violent homes. The period of pregnancy has been identified as a high risk period for battering and as such can lead to malformation of the unborn baby if it survives the assault.”
Proffering solution, the psychiatrist said, “It is imperative to say that though the behaviour of the victim may contribute to and or provoke the other partner, the aggression and violence can never be justified (humans are humane and civilized beings after all).
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