By Allahana Attah
Horrendous stories adorn Nigeria’s news media on a daily basis on the brutality of men against men so much that one wonders if we are still human beings. It beats my imagination the way and manner Nigerians unleash mayhem and violence on fellow citizens, as if we have had age long enmity in our communal relationships or the larger polity as a country. If you doubt my generalised conclusion on this matter, take a look at pages of our print media or sit attentively to news blaring from the air waves and the visual sets, and report your findings to a neighbour. Take a run-down of some of what I have captured here and you will be convinced that men seem to be the worst perpetrators of these heinous social vice and against the women!
Recently, precisely on Monday August 11, 2014, the Punch newspaper reported on the violent murder of a housewife, Mrs. Justina by her “loving” husband, Phillip Katongu. The story had it that Phillip Katongu, who is an indigene of Wamba from Nasarawa State, brutally murdered his wife, Justina by stabbing her three times on the excuse that she infected him with the dreaded HIV/AIDS. Sure if this happened after the death of Patrick Sawyer, the “mad” Liberian man that brought the killer Ebola disease to Nigeria, he would have known that a more deadly disease was knocking on Nigeria’s door.
Anyway, 45 years old Mr. Katongu, a construction worker who had lived with his wife at the Omiru Estate, Maroko- Lagos, alleged that his wife infected him with the disease, having got it from an earlier marriage elsewhere where she had two children, both of whom died of the syndrome, without letting him know this story even though he had told her that he had a wife elsewhere too. His anger was premised
on how and why she hid her HIV/AIDS status from him, and revealed it only when she took him to her medical doctor at Abuja, where she had been attending for the same problem, and to the consternation of even the doctor. Matters took a turn for the worst when she commenced the process of divorcing him, after he was also confirmed to be positive, for a new found lover in Abuja, forcing him to terminate her life.
Another instance of violence being unleashed on women was reported in the social media on 12th August, 2014 when the Police Public Relations Officer for the Ekiti State Police Command, Victor Babayemi was quoted as saying that one Mr. Kola (a.k.a Melomelo, translated to mean “how many, how many”) strangled his wife, Titilayo who was delivered of twins and fled with the children.
Titilayo and her husband had lived at No.23 Temidire Street in the Ajowa area of Ado Ekiti before the husband went berserk to take the life of his “lovely” wife. That the man killed his wife and fled with the children before his eventual arrest is most disheartening as one wonders what he intended doing with the infants. May be, he intended using them for some ritual or other crime but having envisaged that the wife would be a stumbling block, he acted to protect his interest!
Violence against women in Nigeria cuts across all communities as such actions normally perpetrated by men go without attracting attention. This is revealed in the report by “The Haven Wolverhampton”, a Non- Governmental Organisation which indicates that the country tops in the list of African countries guilty of these acts. The organization reports that ‘more than two thirds (2/3) of women are believed to experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands’. A study by this group in Oyo and Lagos states stated that “65% of educated women were beaten by a partner, boyfriend or husband, while 56% of lower income market women suffered similar violence.”
Stephane Mikala of Amenesty International agreed with this assertion when she remarked that “on a daily basis, Nigerian women are beaten, raped and even murdered by members of their family for supposed transgressions, which can range from not having meals on time to visiting family members without their husbands permission”. As if this has become entrenched in the African set up, the African Journal on Reproductive Health reported in 2005 that “a husband has the liberty to violate his wife if he feels he has not adequately fulfilled her obligations – sex and obedience.”
All Nigerians have a duty to protect these mothers, wives and daughters of the country by showing love and thereby stop carrying on with such violence against them, being the weaker vessels. The government, being a signatory to the United Nations Declaration contained in the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), including violence, must wake up to its responsibility.
Having ratified the Convention in 1985, she must bear in mind that it provides that all governments “have an obligation to not only ensure that its agents and officials do not commit violence against women, but also protect them from violence committed by private individuals and bodies”.
It is always said that even in war, women and children are spared by enemies so as to ensure that humanity is not wiped off the earth surface. The sad aspect confronting us where men who ought to be protectors of women now take their lives in cold bold is un-African and very cowardly. These macho men who show strength on hapless women by sniffing the lives off them are so scared of death that they are quick to blame the devil for their acts and also seek forgiveness in order to spare their own lives. It baffles me when these men claim that they loved their wives so much before execution of their dastardly acts. There is the dire need to track down this “DEVIL” in order to prevent further havoc being caused. Now is the time and ALL must be involved in this task.
Allahna Attah wrote in from Lafia and can be reached on [email protected]