Linus Oota, Lafia
Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to amaze saner minds. And, from the look of things, from daily happenings and daily accounts, it appears there can be no end to the evil that wicked minds can conceive. The story of a stepmother who nearly committed culpable homicide by getting a witchdoctor to burn his stepson’s hands whom she accused of making love to her in the dream through the power of witchcraft is one of those tales that may, at first, sound bizarre but, which, alas, is true.
Until recently, Mercy Jummai, 35, a housewife, used to live with her stepson, Ovey Friday, in Wulko community in Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, while her husband, Mayaku Friday, lives far away in Lagos where he had gone in search of greener pasture. But according to sources, he visits home occasionally.
Mayaku was said to have, once, been married to Ovey’s mother before they divorced over some unnamed irreconcilable differences. After a long period of loneliness, he decided to take a second wife and that happened to be Mercy Jummai.
The allegation that put stepson in trouble
There is nothing in the history of the woman who is said to be six-month pregnant to show that she has mental illness. But no one could have predicted her attempt to kill her 13-year-stepson, Ovey, in a most gruesome manner. Matters got out of hand when, with the connivance of a witch doctor, she accused Ovey of trying to sleep with her in her dreams.
The boy who is now reeling in pains at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia, after his two hands were amputated, told our correspondent in tears that his trouble began after his real mother left his father, a development which necessitated him to decide to take another wife.
As soon as the woman found that she was pregnant, her attitude towards Ovey suddenly changed. “She started accusing me of being a wizard,” he said. “She kept raising false alarms against me that I made love to her in her dreams, that she always saw me making love to her in the dream.” Ovey said he denied the trumped-up charge but the woman was as adamant as ever.
“I told her that it was not true. But she started threatening me, saying that I would not stay in the same house with her. She said she would take me to a native doctor’s house to ascertain whether I’m a witch or not. She threatened to kill me if I refused to follow her to the place.” Out of fear of the unknown, the boy obliged her even when the whole idea ran contrary to his conscience. He was sure the oracle or whatever would prove him innocent but little did he know that he had entered into something he never bargained for.
When they got to the witchdoctor’s house, a Fulani man by name Mohammed Danlami, he picked up a stone and threw at him. Afterward, he rubbed the stone on his body before tying up his two hands with a rope. Then he brought hot charcoals and poured it on his tied hands. Immediately, a searing pain went through his entire system.
Ovey’s narration and lamentation
Ovey’s words: “He asked me to confess that I was a wizard and a member of a secret society. But I told him that I was innocent of what he was accusing me of. He brought out powdered pepper and poured it into the fire and allowed the choking smoke to cover my face.”
Next, he attempted to kill him, to butcher him, to use Ovey’s words. “I was crying and shouting and asking God Almighty to save me. My stepmother was looking at me as the Fulani man was struggling to strangle me. In fact, he nearly choked me to death.
“I saw and felt death at a close range. After that, he fetched charcoals from fire, he did it three times, that was when I began to pray to God. When he saw that I was praying, the Fulani man came back and untied my hands, but my wrists, palms, and fingers were already badly burnt. They insisted that I must confess that I’m a wizard but I remained resolute and said that I’m not.
“They brought me home and the following day I woke up to see that my two hands were swollen. It was at that point that the elders of the village took me to the hospital for treatment. I believe that the intention of my stepmother was for the man to burn me alive.”
Then he relapsed into lamentation: “What is my offence? I committed no offence against her. How I wish my mother were around. Her absence has ruined my life. I’m being persecuted for an offence I did not commit. How can I make love to my stepmother in her dreams? It is certainly a case of hatred.”
Then he burst into tears while beckoning on his absent mum to come to his rescue. “I miss my mother dearly,” he said. Next he began to address her as if he was seeing her face-to-face. “Mum, wherever you are, your son has been disfigured. I wish you were here. I’m no longer whole since you left my Dad. I feel your absence every day of my life. I fell into a never-ending well of agony after you left. Please, mum wherever you are, I want you to know the impact your absence is having on my life. I can no longer continue my education anymore because I don’t have hands to write.”
Asked what he wants done to his stepmother now that she is in police net, he said: “I have forgiven her but God will judge her for what she has done to my life because I didn’t do anything wrong to her.”
Mercy and village head’s reactions
When our correspondent got in touch with Mercy who, although is heavily pregnant with her first baby, is cooling her feet in police cell she didn’t show any remorse but instead maintained that Ovey made love to her in her dreams and for that, deserves to die because he is an evil child. After admitting taking him to the witch doctor, she said: “I wanted him to die. I felt hatred and no love for him. He is a member of a secret cult.”
The village head of Wulko, Joseph Envuladu, the Sarkin Garin Wuko, who confessed his shock over the incident, said that such a thing had never happened before in the community. Expressing his doubt over the woman’s allegation, he said he sees Ovey who is said to be popular in the village, as humble and respectful. A member of the St Mary’s Catholic Church choir, he is also said to be a class captain at the Government Secondary Junior Secondary School in the community.
Dismissing Mercy’s allegations with a wave of the hand, the Sarkin turned to our correspondent and asked: “How can you be so wicked wicked to a small innocent boy because he is the son of your husband? His mother had a disagreement with the husband and left long ago before the man got married to you, what is the boy’s offence?”
He expressed his joy over the police’s arrest of Mercy as well as their hunt for the Fulani witchdoctor who is said to be on the run. Frantic efforts made by our correspondent to contact the father of Ovey and husband of Mercy proved abortive as the calls put to his line did not go through.