Stories by Onyedika Agbedo
Against the backdrop of rising cases of domestic violence in the country, The Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of The Sun newspapers, yesterday staged a walk against the vice in Lagos State, urging Nigerians to say no to it and build happy and healthy homes.
The walk, which involved the over 500 staff of the company, also attracted some members of the civil society and celebrities in the entertainment industry, who joined the company to call on the federal and state governments to ensure that cases of domestic violence in Nigeria were eradicated by bringing culprits to justice.
Carrying bold placards with various inscriptions such as “No to violence against women and child abuse”; “No to domestic violence”; “No to violence against women”; and “No to child abuse”, among others, the walk kicked off from the Golden Tulip Hotel in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state, where the participants converged as early as 8.30am.
From there, under the watchful eyes of security agencies and health officials who followed behind with an ambulance, they marched through the Festac Link Road in Amuwo-Odofin to Apple Junction roundabout from where they made a detour to Rabiu Babatunde Tinubu Road which connected them to Durbar Road by Mile II Estate through which they returned to the hotel where they refreshed.
Addressing the crowd of excited staff and associates before the walk commenced, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the company, Mr. Eric Osagie, said the event was envisioned in solidarity with people suffering domestic violence and abuse in the country. He stated that although it would provide an opportunity for people to exercise and have fun, its sole purpose was to declare to the world that The Sun stands against domestic violence and child abuse.
Osagie, who also addressed the media and onlookers as the walk progressed, warned that the future of the country was in jeopardy if domestic violence and child abuse were not curbed.
Osagie challenged the media to go beyond reporting such cases by coming out to campaign against them. He said: “The media only reports what happened. But the media must be actively involved in crusading against this kind of evil in our land. Hundreds of Nigerian women and children are being abused on a daily basis. What future are we building if we see this kind of thing happening in our country and we cannot say something about it? It is not enough to report; it is not only enough to analyse. It is more fundamentally important to be part of the moves to stop the vice.
“So, we decided as a responsible organisation to gather our staff, over 500 of us, to march against this evil in our land and to draw governments’ attention to these seriously dangerous happenings in our country. We saw Korede, the young boy that was chained by his father and stepmother. What has happened? We demand to know. Have they been prosecuted? We see a lot of women today who have been victims of acid bath, rape and abuse by their spouses. Some children have been raped by their fathers and some men are also experiencing domestic violence. So, we are saying no to it. With our friends in the entertainment industry and the civil society, we say no to it. It must stop now!”
He noted that the walk was the first edition of the series of campaign against domestic violence that the company had planned. “We started from our immediate environment. Next time we may do it in Ikeja or elsewhere. But I can assure you that we will do it again and again,” he added.
The Convener of Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who participated in the walk, in her speech, lauded the organisation for coming up with the initiative, stressing that cases of domestic violence were on the rise in the country and needed to be addressed.
“Due to the fact that domestic violence is shockingly on the rise, we in the civil society had carried out series of awareness even to the Lagos State House of Assembly and to the Executive.
Our solidarity march here today is to prove a point. The Sun newspaper has been a great pacesetter. This is the first of its kind. We have realised that a people united can never be defeated. So, we remain united in saying a resounding no to domestic violence. We are also through this march sending a signal to perpetrators of the act that we have laws in this country against domestic violence,” she said.
Okei-Odumakin urged Nigerians suffering domestic violence to speak out. “We want to urge people who are being domestically violated to speak out. Neighbours must also be conscious of their environment and report any case of domestic violence to the appropriate authorities. All of us must speak out; we must rise in unison; we must defeat this monster called domestic violence. Marriage is not a competition but to complement each other. We must all rise above emotions and know that impunity can never be tolerated again in our society,” she added.
PMAN, Nollywood celebrities, others back campaign against domestic violence
President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Pretty Okafor has said that the association was totally in support of any move to curb domestic violence in the country.
Okafor, who participated in the walk against domestic violence in the country, organised by The Sun yesterday, said the Nigerian society would get better if domestic violence was curbed.
This is as Nollywood celebrities, Princess Chineke and Fidelis Duker, who also participated in the event advised couples to find better ways of resolving issues in their families instead of resorting to domestic violence.
Speaking with Sunday Sun, Okafor said: “First, PMAN is a pressure group and one of the functions of a pressure group is to fight against every ill in the society. Violence against women and children are ills in the society. Violence against one’s husband is also an ill in our society. This is a difficult aspect of our lives as a nation. Once you can positively influence your wife, husband, children or house-help from the beginning, you will be able to influence your next-door neighbour. If you live right, you will be able to influence your next-door neighbour to start living right. And your next-door neighbour, whom you have influenced, will influence the next person. In so doing, our society will be fine in no time.
“I can prophesy that if we can stop violence in our respective homes, crimes and criminalities in our society will simply disappear. So, in our quest to build a just society, we need to start from our homes by saying no to domestic violence and influencing our friends and neighbours to also do so.”
PMAN Vice President, Sunny Neji, who was also at the event, advised perpetrators of domestic violence in the country to abandon their ways and ‘grow up’, saying the vice had destroyed many homes.
“We have had too much of it; in fact, it is really destroying homes and families. And of course you know that what makes the family is the nation. So, that is why we are all here. We are in support of the idea that there shouldn’t be domestic violence anymore in Nigeria,” he said.
Neji added: “This is a symbolic walk. This is also a walk to appreciate those who had not been practicing domestic violence; those who have been promoting the values of a healthy family life.”
Nollywood actress, Princess Chineke, told Sunday Sun that domestic violence and child abuse were vices that must be eradicated from the country.
“I am today joining others to say no to domestic violence. Husbands should stop fighting their wives and beating them. Women who beat their husbands must also stop doing that as well. And it should not stop there. People should also stop beating their house-helps. This is because if you are the type that maltreats your house-help, while you are out there trying to make a living for your family, he/she will in turn pass that treatment to your children and you won’t be there to find out. There are better ways to settle issues between husbands, wives, children and house-helps than resorting to violence. So, domestic violence is a vice we must eradicate from our society.
We must all say no to it,” she said. The event drew accolades from many passers-by, who extolled The Sun for raising the consciousness of the society against domestic violence.
A passer-by, who identified himself as Matthew Ugwu, told Sunday Sun that he was against domestic violence as a person. “It is a bad thing. It is one thing I wouldn’t want to be associated with. I even warn my friends against it because it is very destructive.
So, the walk by The Sun is a good initiative. It shows that they identify with the society. It’s thumbs-up for The Sun. I also urge them to take the campaign farther,” he said.
Timeline of cases of domestic violence/child abuse
July 2011: Titilayo Arowolo, a banker, was murdered by her husband, Akolade Arowolo, in their flat at Akindeinde Street, Isolo, Lagos.
April 12, 2014: 29-year-old father of three, Kingsley Ekerete beat to death his daughter, 7, Favour over plate of rice in Rivers State.
April 2015: 34-year-old factory worker, Mohammed Ahmed confessed that he raped his 14-year-old daughter 6 times.
May 2016: Ronke Shonde, a banker, was allegedly murdered by her husband, Lekan Shonde, at their home in Egbeda, Lagos.
May 12, 2016: Daniel Joseph, 31, arrested for raping his 2-year-old daughter in Gonin-Gora, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
June 2016: Godwin Abuul, lecturer in the Theatre Arts Department of the College of Education Oju in Benue State allegedly murdered by his wife in Gboko for cheating on her.
July 3, 2016: Josiah Johnson, 42, arraigned for allegedly beating his wife, Juliana to death over her refusal to have sex with him at Erio-Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
July 23, 2016: Korede Taiwo, chained by his father for stealing meat in Ogun State
July 30, 2016: Chiamaka Okafor, 10-year-old girl chained by her aunt in Ogun State
August 2016: Uzoamaka, 15-year-old JSS2 student from Uburu in Ohaozara LGA, Ebonyi State, stripped naked and brutalized by five men for refusing to sleep with one of them.