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25 Nov 2017

Honeymoon to doom: Couples maim, send partners to early graves

Over the last few days, the Nigerian airspace has been replete with all sorts of news. While some have been soul-lifting, a handful others have been demoralising, leaving many confused as to where the society was headed. Even though cases of spouses and even lovers having strained relationship and quarrelling in the process are not totally strange, killing each other in the midst of such tempestuous moments appears to have become almost a tradition these days.
For example, last Saturday evening, news of a nursing mother stabbing her husband to death in their Wuse, Abuja, home rent the airwaves, sending shocks down the spines of many across the country. The young mother identified as Maryam Sanda, stabbed her spouse – Bilyamin Bello – son of a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Haliru Bello, in the neck and chest while he slept in the bedroom following suspicions of infidelity. Though immediately rushed to a nearby hospital by the woman, the young man died shortly afterwards due to the grievous bodily harm inflicted on him.

According to close friends of the victim, the two-year-old marriage had been fraught with problems as a result of Sanda’s violent tendencies and hot temperament.

“Maryam had attacked Bilyamin before the latest incident, which unfortunately led to his death. The two got married about two years ago when the victim’s father persuaded him to marry her. Everyone was shocked by Bilyamin’s death; it was sudden, unexpected and tragic,” one of his friends said.

Describing the act as intentional, the police in Abuja, which already filed murder charges against the suspect at the Federal Capital Territory High Court and obtained a two-week remand warrant to keep her, are seeking the death penalty. They want maximum punishment for the crime.

While news of the gruesome murder of Bilyamin,a real estate developer, by his wife was yet to fully die down, the airwaves was again rocked by another similar occurrence on Wednesday, November 22, when a woman stabbed her husband multiple times with broken bottle in Zamfara State. The incident, which happened in Gusau, the capital city, did not only send residents around the neighbourhood into panic, but shed more light on rising cases of spousal abuse in the country.

Though findings by Saturday PUNCH reveal that the victim is still alive, he is said to be in a critical situation following the gravity of the attack and the terrible state it left him.

“The man is still alive but he is in a very bad state because his wife stabbed him several times and in different places. They had an argument and the next thing, she broke a bottle and charged at her husband with the aim of finishing him up.

“We are all still in shock because nobody expected such,” a resident around the area of the incident, Alim, said.

While the victim in Zamfara is lucky to remain alive after being served a ‘deadly blow’ by his wife, Mr. Raymond Ihugba, a resident of Owerri in Imo State was not as fortunate. His wife, Augustina, bathed him with acid after accusing him of adultery. The woman had traced the 50-year-old to a construction site where he was working before emptying the deadly liquid on him. She immediately fled the scene, leaving him to his fate. Despite being rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Ihugba died shortly afterwards. The incident, which happened on October 10, 2017, continues to leave residents of the community in shock.

“Ray did his best to take care of his family with the little resources he had but rather than rally round him and remain steadfast in prayers, his wife always made life difficult for him. Now that she has killed him, I hope that she will be satisfied,” mother of the victim, Eunice Ihugba, said painfully after his death.

In September, the gruesome murder of a 33-year-old woman known as Onyinye Eze by her husband, Stephen Akpata, in Bayelsa State, added a troubling twist to this rising phenomenon. Akpata, said to have lived in Australia for several years before moving back to Nigeria, strangled Eze with the cable of an electric iron before also stabbing her with a kitchen knife. He thereafter locked her body up in their apartment before going into hiding. He was however, arrested by the police two weeks later in Badagry, Lagos.

“When our operatives went into the apartment of the deceased, we meticulously searched the environment and saw a three-quarter knicker that was well hidden, tucked somewhere in the room that one would not suspect that something was hidden there,” Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa, Asuquo Amba, said. “We discovered there was a blood stain on the knicker. By this time, we tried to find out who was with the lady because we knew that they had just contracted a registry marriage.

“We got in touch with Akpata who is the purported husband. He gave us the impression that he was out of town, implying that he travelled before the incident.

“So, we were still communicating with him, at least to break the news to him that his purported wife was dead. He told us he was on his way back and this took us some days.

“As we were communicating with him, he was giving us the impression that he was coming back, not knowing that he was plotting his own escape.

“We found out that prior to the time of her murder, the suspect had spent so much money on her and they were moving from one hotel to another. Still, we were playing along to enable him to come to us. But since he said he was in Lagos, we suspected that Ghana or Republic of Benin would be a likely point of escape.

“We got in touch with the embassies there and the Ghanaian Embassy was on the alert. From our radar, we found out that he slept in Ghana.

“He escaped back to Badagry in Lagos. He did not know we were still following him up. We got in touch with the police in Badagry. Eventually he was arrested at the Badagry border. That was how we brought him back,”Amba added.

About one month before that time, an auxiliary nurse in the Oto-Awori area of Lagos, Mrs. Folashade Idoko, stabbed her husband, Lawrence, to death, after accusing him of cheating on her with another woman. According to neighbours, the wife had constantly subjected the 32-year-old man to domestic abuse since they married even though the victim showed restraint hoping that she would turn a new leaf.

“He returned from a one-week official assignment one evening and his wife accused him of having extramarital affair before stabbing him in the leg with a sharp knife. It was his three-year-old son’s cries that alerted neighbours, by which time he had bled profusely.

“He died about an hour after he was rushed to the nearby New Ayetoro Medical Centre,” the victim’s neighbour said.

Revealing that they had no idea their relation was in an abusive marriage, aunt to the deceased, Betty Abbah, said that they could have known how to help him had he opened up to them on the real situation.

“My nephew, like many men and women who die daily in violent relationships, would have been alive had they fled such deadly arrangements in the name of marriage.

“We, the family, will ensure that justice is done. This is another young and promising life deliberately cut short and this wickedness will not go unpunished.

“We would have intervened one way or the other but he hid the entire violent scenario from us. Persons suffering domestic violence should always call out for help. It is indeed a big tragedy for us,” she said.

That same month, a pregnant woman – Chinyere Akaleme, was killed by her husband, Obinna, on the day she was to be delivered of the baby. Announcing the incident in a post on popular social networking platform – Facebook, a Benue-based human rights activist, Ukan Kurugh, said the woman had been a victim of domestic abuse since she married the man in 2012.

“Unfortunately for Chinyere, she did not live to tell her own story. She was cut down in her prime by the man she loved till death. She died on the day she was to give birth after series of miscarriages.

“In 2012, she met and married Obinna, a farmer/chef/kitchen assistant and thus began her journey to an untimely death in the hands of the man she loved so much and catered for,” the post read in parts.

The incident came after another disturbing spousal killing when in July a 39-year-old mother-of-three, Omotayo Salawudeen, confessed to murdering her husband, Hakeem, while being paraded by the police in Oshogbo, Osun State. The woman, who contracted the services of a 24-year-old ex-convict, Oladapo Dolapo, for backup, said that she snuffed life out of the victim after he got her angry.

“We were married for 17 years and were blessed with three children. My husband didn’t offend me, I was just mad at him. I choked him with pillow after we had sex while I got Dolapo to stab him to death with a knife,” the woman said.

Disturbing as these killings appear, they are only a fraction of spousal murders that have occurred in many parts of Nigeria in recent times. While some observers blame these gruesome attacks on the pressure created by the country’s poor economy on families, others finger the loss of morals and societal values as part of the major causes fueling this sad trend.

According to Sociologist, Biobele George, the failure of couples to carefully interrogate the person of their partners before going into marriage and also learn to exhibit tolerance and genuine respect for each other was part of factors contributing to such deaths as witnessed today.

“Today’s youths want and love to do things in a hurry. They fail to sometimes take their time to study a person and or situation before jumping into marriage. They meet somebody today and by tomorrow, they are man and wife. This should not necessarily be so.

“Marriage, being one of the sacred institutions ordained by God, requires a lot of sacrifice and perseverance. Many of today’s young people do not have such and that is why some of these things are happening.

“The problem also reflects how low we have gone as a society. If for example the large majority of the society still has regards for our morals and values, many of these things won’t be happening.

“For me, it is not a question of frustration due to economic factors, I think if a man and woman understand each other very well and are always willing to make sacrifices, they will experience peace and surmount any challenge that comes their way,” he said.

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