Thursday, February 22, 2024

Battered, starved: Agonising tales of Nigerian wives abandoned by husbands for younger ladies

BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI

Even after giving birth to four grown up children, Mrs Oliseh (not real name), has not stopped being maltreated by her husband.

Things degenerated into her husband not sparing the children while torturing his wife.

Apparently tired of beholding his wife’s face, the father of four threw her and the children out of his house and brought in a younger girl whom he had been living with.

Efforts by Mrs Oliseh to make things work proved abortive.

This woman, in her late 40s, hails from Ngbo Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

She narrated her ordeals to The Point:
“My husband has been maltreating me and my four children; he beats me everyday. I do everything within my power to sustain my children and I. I have two boys and two girls, the marks of the beatings are all over my body. I am still on medication due to the maltreatment from my husband. He beats the children also.

“I reported my case at GBV Taskforce Office and Barr. Faith Vincent-Nwanchor took my case to the state governor’s wife. My husband and I no longer live together because he chased me out of his house. I had to leave with my children.”

Mrs Oliseh is not alone in this agony. Another resident of the state who is an indigene of Izzi, Ntezi-Aba Mile 50 of Ebonyi, has experienced abandonment, verbal and emotional assaults from her husband who is nowalso frolicking with a younger lady.

The Point hid the real names of the survivors to avoid exposing them to stigma in public.

In her over 40 years, Madam Cecilia (not real name), said she had never for once enjoyed her over 20 years marriage as she was eventually ditched by her husband despite having eight children for him.

“I suffered with my husband a lot. I married him when he was a nobody but now he calls me old-fashioned. He married me after my junior WAEC, I have not experienced joy in my marriage to him since then. Before we got married, I prayed to the point that I almost died. After all the suffering, our wedding sponsor later got a job for my husband. He went for conversion last two years, only for him to dump me saying I was of no use to him. I gave birth to eight children, one died, remaining seven, including three boys and four girls,” she said amidtears.

Throwing more light on the level of scorn and abuse she got from her husband, Mrs Cecilia stated, “I am owing debt everywhere just because I want to feed my children. He picked a girl, harboured her in Lagos and started sponsoring her at the School of Nursing. He said that was the lady he would get married to. If he sells a land, he will not inform me or give me part of the money. It is only him and his new lover that do things together. If you get to our house, you would not believe that I am the same person telling you all these. The lady has turned his head upside down. He is madly in love with her.

“For over a month now, My kids and I have not eaten, we are starving. He instructed me to borrow money for him from our meeting and he has refused to pay. Instead, he told our children that he gave me N150,000 to keep. The people he is owing came for their money, he told our children that if he pays off that debt, he won’t feed or take care of them again. My kids have emaciated. After paying their school fees, he won’t give them food to take to school. From morning, he would be on phone chatting with his lover. He has not married her.

“For about five months now, he doesn’t call me on phone, I am on my own working as a cleaner to take care of myself and my children. So, I had to go and report at GBV office. I worked in the mining industry before now, people know me there. I used to help people then, but now, due to my condition, people pity me.”

For another survivor of domestic violence, Madam Alice (not real name), her husband almost killed her recently with knife and pestle when she was eight months into her last pregnancy. She alleged that he seized her business capital, deprived her access to her six children and forced her to worship fetish gods.

She narrated, “I have been married to my husband for 14 years with three boys and three girls. When I was eight months pregnant with my last child, my husband kept beating me. The day he used pestle and knife and wanted to kill me, something in me told me to run for my life. I ran out of the house and started calling my neighbours to come and help me. That was the time I had N480,000 with me. My husband asked me to borrow him that money that he needed it for business and would pay me as soon as the business matured. Because I don’t trust him with money, I refused. He chased me out of the house because I refused to give him the money.I later gave him the money for peace to reign and we settled.

“But, till date, that money has not been refunded as agreed and because of that, I am out of business. Then, at another time, my only brother was sick and admitted at AEFUTHA, I went to see him. That became a problem because my husband banned me from relating with my siblings. My husband would start beating me wheneverI came back. He tore my clothes at a point and was hitting me on my stomach with the pregnancy. He said he would kill me and no one would ask about me. My father is late while my mother is very old, I have only my beloved brother to speak on my behalf.

“As he fell critically sick and was at the hospital, my husband banned me from visiting and eventually, my brother later died last week. Now, my husband is happy that I finally do not have anyone to speak for me as he bragged. I think there should be better implementation of laws to protect the women and defenceless children in this country. If the laws on ground are not good enough, more can be made to that effect.

“My husband drove me out of our house, a flat we were living in which I contributed in paying the rent; he chased me out of the house for no known reason. He withdrew my five kids from school and took them to the village. I suffered to put them in Annunciation Primary School, Abakaliki; he sent them to the village, saying that when things improve, he will bring them back. I thought that was the end, only for him to rent our flat out, pack our properties to God knows where, since September last year 2022 till today.

“I don’t know where he ran to with the properties, I suffered, contributed towards the purchase of those properties, I travel to Cotonou for business, selling fairly used clothes for more than 10 years now. I am very popular in the business. I went for NYSC at Aba since 2013, no job after youth service. I started this business and was doing well but my husband would not let me continue in peace.”

“I took the case to our people in the village to settle, he told my kinsmen and his kinsmen that I was into prostitution, and asked me to swear according to their diabolical tradition. But, I told them it was against my faith. I am a charismatic (Catholic), I cannot do such. He insisted I must take the oath for him. He left with my kids to Abakaliki, he doesn’t want me to have access to them. I have called his line severally, he keeps abusing me, insisting I swear at the shrine of gods of their land,” the woman added amid sobs.

A widow also narrated how her brother in-law, Friday Nwankpuru, chased her and her children out of their house after the sudden and mysterious death of her husband, John Okwuchukwu last year March.

“After my husband’s burial, Nwankpuru sent me and my children out of my husband’s house, took our big mattress, television and DVD to his own house. All efforts to resolve the problems were nullified through his newly developed aggressive attitudes. I locked the house, traveled to town and started menial jobs to feed. When things became so unbearable, I went home to sell some of the empty crates of drinks I packed in the house and discovered that my brother in-law now lives in our house and has taken possession of all our properties.

“When I reported the matter to my mother-in-law, her response was that Nwankpuru only took over his late younger brother’s properties and not any other person’s. As I speak, Nwankpuru is still with my husband’s ATM card and by now, I know he must have withdrawn all the cash therein,” she said.

Touched by their sad experiences, the wife of the Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs Mary-Maudline Nwifuru,gathered these women and others, rehabilitated and empowered them.

The survivors of the gender-based violence applauded the First Lady and called for strict implementation of existing laws and promulgation of more stringent ones to guarantee protection and promotion of women and children in the state.

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