Paul Osuyi, Asaba
At 35, she is not supposed to look haggard or emaciated after giving birth to seven children. There are other women within that age bracket who look as healthy and robust as women who had never given any birth. But no thanks to what many see as her husband’s maltreatment, Gladys, looking malnourished seems like an old woman, of say, 60 – 70 years.
In the past four years, she is said to have been locked up by her husband, one Ame Edjeketa, 41, in an abandoned dingy room in the family’s rented apartment in Orerokpe, Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.
The man did so following an allegation which her current caretakers said are yet to be substantiated, that she is insane and a witch. Besides denying her access to good treatment, although he insists that this was done but to no avail, he allegedly locked her up, starved her and only fed her daily with akpu madiga (a local bread). She reportedly ate, defecated and urinated in the room where she was locked up. Meanwhile, in the course of it all, the man, according to sources, continued to lie to unsuspecting neighbours that his wife was dead and buried.
He cared less for her demoralized, emotional state. But rather he was said to have turned her into a sex toy and a baby-making machine, sort of. Within the said years of incarceration, she was said to have given birth to three children for the man.
Police comment on the case
However, the Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Onome Onovwakpoyeya, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who confirmed the man’s arrest after alarms were raised, said police investigation is yet to establish the number of years the victim was locked up.
But she was quick to confirm that the man has continued to maintain his stance before investigators that his wife has mental problem and is a witch. She added that contrary to speculation and accusation that he did not take good medical care of his wife, the man has continued to insist that her condition had defied solutions at various herbal and healing homes where she was taken to. She revealed that the man further told police that his wife’s family rejected her before he allegedly resorted to incarcerating her.
A neighbour’s account of the rescue
Interestingly, the name of one of those who rescued Gladys from her husband’s hand happened also to be Onome. But she is not, in any way, related to the police public relations officer with whom she shares namesake. Speaking to Saturday Sun, she accused the man’s lover of being the brains behind the man’s inhuman acts towards his wife. She claimed she actively supported her lover’s atrocities for selfish interest: so that she can move in as the woman of the house.
Her account: “The story I heard is that everything was going on well. She and her husband were living together until the man got himself with a girlfriend who told him to lock her up because she was smelling. That was the story that Gladys told us with her mouth. And her husband did so in a room, and was feeding her with akpu madiga, a local bread sold in this Okpe area. According to her, that was what her husband fed her with for four years.
“But within those years of being locked up, she had three children for him. And, the questions that need to be answered here are: who took the delivery of those babies? Did she get ante-natal treatment? Who administered it? Who took care of the babies? These are the questions begging for answers. This is why we are calling on credible non-governmental organisations (NGO) to please take up her case and ensure that she gets justice.”
On how the bubble burst, Onome said it happened when a bereaved but unsuspecting neighbour cried towards the direction of the room and saw the woman that rumour claimed to have died and buried over the years hidden in it.
“The room was always locked,” she said. “But someone was bereaved and was crying. The person went there and saw her. We later got to know this from our Facebook page, Orerokpe Aproko, where she posted phone photos of her discovery. That was how we reported the matter to the Divisional Police Station at Orerokpe with pictures of the woman’s living condition. The DPO swung into action and sent officers to arrest the man immediately. As we speak, he is with them at the station while the victim has been taken to the General Hospital at Orerokpe. We have been with her at the hospital, and we are currently doing some running around, trying to get prescribed drugs for her. They alleged that she is not mentally stable. But as soon as she drank the milk that we bought for her, she was able to tell us her story with her own mouth. As a woman, I am pained and broken in spirit. I want to appeal to well-meaning individuals if you have an NGO that is into rehabilitation of women please reach out. Please, we need help. This is a legitimate Save Our Soul (SOS) appeal. We need all the help we can get. Kindly help us in anyway you can,” Onome pleaded.
More details about the man emerge as NGO wades in
Children of the couple whom the man was said to have brainwashed to believe that their mother was a witch, reportedly shocked neighbours recently when they told them, following the discovery of what was going on, that they were waiting for her to die so that they can feed her remains to the fishes of the river. A source told Saturday Sun that the man, in a fit of anger, some time ago, killed his eldest son, for allegedly drinking his water. He reportedly beat him into coma before he gave up the ghost.
At the moment, only one NGO has responded to the call for help. But Onome continue to insist that they need as many as they can get. The NGO, Behind Bars Human Rights Foundation said it was already working on how to improve the health condition of the victim.
Throwing more light on what that meant, Harrison Gwamnishu, the Director General of the foundation, said that the first step is to move the patient out of the General Hospital, Orerokpe to either the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara or the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba for a comprehensive medical attention. He added that his organisation would also involve the state Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development.