Linus Oota, Lafia
It is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Your wife of 14 years, with whom you have sought to have a child for a long time and with whom you have earnestly prayed for it, suddenly turns to you one day and breaks the good news you’ve been hoping for: that she is pregnant. All of a sudden, you find yourself pregnant too with joy and hope. You find yourself dancing for joy.
You went with her through the morning sickness, the complaints of pain and nausea. On the night of delivery you went with her to hospital, you stayed with her in the labour room encouraging and praying for her. The expected baby finally arrives and it turned out to be a boy. You called your friends and relations to break to them the good news.
On the day of his naming ceremony, you decided to paint the town red. You organized a befitting feast for relations and friends. You carried the baby in your arms as you had always done since he was born, as you went through the procedures of the naming proper. But after all that dancing and rejoicing, after all the festivities, suddenly, you are told that the child you had all along thought to have sired, that you had celebrated, in a big way, with friends and well-wishers, on his arrival, is actually not yours but belongs to another man.
The story in a nutshell
How do you handle such shocking news? For a 43-year-old Jukun man called Abu Shoja, a resident of Gubbo community in Awe local government Area, there was no other way to handle such heartbreaking and shameful news than to commit suicide. And, that was what he, a big-time farmer, did when he hanged himself recently when he found out that other members of the community had gone to tend their farms, leaving nobody at home to stop him in his track. His dream of being called a proud father of a baby after 14 years of waiting was shattered recently when his wife told him in plain language that he is not the father of their three-months-old baby boy.
The incident has thrown members of his family into deep mourning as they struggle to come to terms with what had happened. His younger brother, Audu, said he started fearing for senior brother’s life when he noticed that he was depressed and withdrawn after the woman left him, together with the new born baby. But no one envisaged that it would get to the level of him taking his life on account of that.
Abu’s death came as it dawned on him that his wife, Naomi had not only been unfaithful to him, but revealed that her three months old new born baby belongs to another man, one Moses Orhi, a commercial motorcycle operator, popularly called Okada, whom she said she prefers to spend the rest of her life with. She told our correspondent that she did that to get a child, not minding the consequence because she and her husband were unable to get a child during their 14-year marriage. She accused her husband of not taking positive steps to address the issue.
According to her, she met Moses in Awe town and together they hit it off in love affair. Two or three months into the affair, she became pregnant for the man. But her husband thinking that he was responsible, got the whole community to celebrate the arrival of the baby with fanfare. Five months after delivery, the woman told the husband that she want to travel to Lafia on the pretext of needing urgent medical attention. But instead, she proceeded to Benue State and from there to Taraba in the company of Moses. It was from there that she put a call through to her husband to give him the heartbreaking news: that he is not the father of the newborn baby, and that she has returned the baby to his biological father.
Abu’s narrative before he committed suicide
Abu who narrated the story to our correspondent in Lafia five days before he committed suicide said he was overwhelmed with emotion when his wife broke the sad news to him: that a child he thought was his, a child he had carried in the crooks of his arms two months ago, with happiness and relief and great assurances that he would make a wonderful father to is no longer his, in fact, was never his, in the first place.
He recalled with great anguish and bitterness how his wife left home for Lafia under the pretext of going to hospital only to call and inform him later that he is not the father of the child and that she has decided to return the child to the rightful owner.
“To say I am devastated is an understatement,” he said. “Truth is, there are no words adequate enough to describe the loss I feel, after suffering from infertility for more than 10 years. Finally, I thought I was a dad to the new born baby. I lived with the pains of the new born baby pregnancy and I was there at his birth. It was the most incredible moment of my life. That night, I rang friends and relatives to break to them the good news. I never knew I was celebrating some body’s else blood. When this woman told me she has missed her period, I was happy and told her that she was only worried about going to the hospital and that God would do it at the appropriate time. And, truly he did it, though in the last one year, I had suspected this woman and her activities in Awe town. My spirit kept telling me something was wrong with her consistency in Awe but I allowed God to handle the situation.
“When the child came, I was happy and made it known that God has finally answered my prayers. Now, to find out that he is not really mine has been a huge loss, it is akin to bereavement; it is only that the grief is twisted, even magnified, because he is not dead. It pains me to know that I am no longer a father, to know that I’m left, not only with a bleak chasm of loss but also an enormous sense of betrayal. This woman knew from day one that I am not responsible for the pregnancy. Her delivery was the proudest moment of my life. Today, there is no usual cry of a baby in my house.”
Naomi’s side of the sad story
When our correspondent later got the phone number of his wife and called her, she confirmed her husband’s statement. “Yes, he is my husband but he is not the father of my son, that is the truth and I can’t hide it from him,” she said. “We stayed together as husband and wife for 14 years without a child. I did everything humanly possible for us to go to the hospital but he refused and his only excuse is that God would bring a child at the appropriate time. The truth is that we never had any sexual intercourse during the period I took in, so what made him think he is the father?”
Giving an insight into how she got pregnant for another man, she said: “In the course of my fish business, I met one young man by the name Moses. He toasted me and against all odds, I agreed and submitted myself to him. But before I did that, we carried out an HIV test. Both of us were negative and from there, we bonded skin to skin. During this period, I made sure that my husband did not even see my pants. I wanted to taste another man to know where the problem is. I almost relocated to Awe because Moses was actually giving me the necessary satisfaction and in less than three months, he was able to impregnate me.”
Asked why she should break such a sad news in what was supposed to be her husband’s happiest moment, she replied: “It was better I tell him this early because I am no longer interested in the marriage. If he wants, let him to go to court and I will bring the child for the DNA test to prove that what I am saying is the truth: that the man never slept with me during that period. So it is not possible for him to be responsible for the pregnancy and the child subsequently. As I talk to you, me and Moses have left Nasarawa State already.
We are not within again.” Talking about his lover’s financial state, she said: “no matter how poor he is, I prefer to stay with him.”
Her lover’s tale
Naomi linked our correspondent with Moses who he discovered to be not too happy with the situation either, or rather, to be caught between different emotions. “I only got to know that the woman was somebody’s wife when she delivered,” he said over the phone. “I couldn’t have toasted somebody’s wife. What she told me was that she lost her husband nine years ago. She only told me the real story eight months into her pregnancy. I became afraid for my life and left Awe. Right now, I am in Jalingo, Taraba State, but the woman and my son are in Zaki Biam, in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State, but they will soon join me when the current crisis in the area has subsided.”
Talking about the situation, he said: “I blame her seriously for misleading me into sleeping with her. I never knew she was somebody’s wife but now that I know, as soon as my son grows up, I will discharge her back to her husband place. I won’t marry her but I can’t allow my own blood to go. I am the biological father of the boy and I have taken him. It is unfortunate but there is nothing I can do.”
Audu Shoja’s take on the incident
Five days after Shoja’s heartbreaking rendition of the incident he reportedly hanged himself after everybody in the community had gone to farm. Confirming this ugly development in a chat with our correspondent, his younger brother, Audu Shoja wondered aloud: “it is unfortunate that he decided to kill himself because of a woman. What is the big deal there if a woman tells you that you are not the father of her son? So be it and move on. He claims to be a man of God but look at what he has done!
“Since this thing happened, I have been advising him to let it go that he is not the only person. It has happened to many people and they have moved on. He looked so worried since the issue happened. Every day I would advise him to calm down and forget about the woman. But since he feels killing himself is the solution to the whole problem, so be it. We will make arrangement and bury him immediately. That is all I can say, thank you.”