From Abel Leonard, Nasarawa
The hope of some family members to secure justice and proper medical treatment for Gabriel Usman, a native of Akun community in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, who went blind after retiring as a director from the state’s Ministry of Health now appears to be bright as their cry has reached the ears of the Executive Director of the Nasarawa Human Rights Commission, Gammun Blessing Tulari.
Peter and Paul Usman, the twin sons of the retiree from his first marriage to the late Mrs Hannah Usman, who spoke with Sunday Sun, alleged that the second wife, Mrs Anna Gabriel, had been keeping their father locked up in a room for over a year and had forbidden other members of the polygamous family from seeing or having any contact with him. The mother of the twins died few years ago from a protracted illness.
The twins further alleged that their stepmother, Anna, threatened to use the police on them if they attempted to forcibly open the door where she locked up their father.
Narrating the agony of the family over the ordeal of the retiree, one of the twins, Peter, said: “Our father is not well, he is blind, he can’t do anything. Our stepmother is stopping us from seeing him. We are students of the Nasarawa College of Administration and Business Studies, NACABS, Polytechnic, in Akwanga. We can’t pay our schools fees and life is very rough for us.
“Our stepmother controls his resources; we are left with nothing, we are suffering. Please help us tell the world so that our father can be taken to the hospital for proper treatment.
“She treats him like a dog. Just the same way you see people take food to dogs, that’s how she does to our father. We need help.”
The third wife of Gabriel, Mrs Rose Bala, corroborated what the twins said, alleging that the second wife must be using diabolic means to control their husband.
Her words: “I am the third wife. I had to leave the house with my four children because he was no longer taking care of me. I went back to my parent’s house. That’s why you met me here.
“It was a terrible experience in that house because the woman would not allow me access to my husband. Anytime I tried she would threaten to kill my children and I. No one was willing to help; I complained to family members, but nothing was done about it.
“It is as if everyone is under her spell as even the police are protecting her because oftentimes she would do something and when you try to complain she will go and bring police officers to arrest us.
“And the bitter aspect is that Baba (Mr Gabriel Usman) as we fondly call him is sick and blind, but locked inside the house. Probably, she wants him die so that she and her children will possess his property.”
The younger sister of Gabriel, Mrs Catherine Arigu Philip, in a telephone chat with Sunday Sun, said that she had never ceased to agonise over the present condition of her elder brother, stressing that for many years she had been unable to see him because Anna would not let the other family members, including the children of the first and third wives, to visit or see him.
Mrs Philip, however, acknowledged that before Gabriel’s condition became worse, she and other members of the family had issues with him, when he was still a director at the state ministry of health.
Recalling the incident, she said: “He did not train any of us in school; he collected our father’s gratuity and spent it with that woman, but what shall we do? He did not treat our mother well too. He is sick now. We have to help him, but the woman is not allowing us to do that.
“She locked him inside the bedroom, denying everybody access to him. She has sold almost all the property of the man and controls his resources. The children have been left with nothing except her own children.”
When Sunday Sun visited the Aren Akun (village head), Akun community, Alhaji Usman Ombugadu Galafima, he confirmed that the twins had come to lodge complaints over the matter.
“As a father and a village head, I sent some people to go and talk to the woman and the brother of the man because I know the man to be a retired director and the children want to write exams and had not paid their fees.
“When all those efforts were not yielding fruits, I now directed them to go and report to the Human Right Commission in Akwanga so that they could get justice and save their father from the situation,” the traditional ruler said.
And when Sunday Sun approached Mrs Anna Gabriel to react to the allegations made against her, she denied all of them, dismissing them as lies and mere manifestation of jealousy.
She, however, confirmed that her husband has been sick for the past six years and was rather abandoned by the family members, adding that she was left alone with him to suffer with her own children.
Her words: “My husband is sick with diabetes and that affected his sight. As a result of that it became difficult for him to go out or do anything. I can confirm to you that I locked him up inside the house. Those boys, his so-called children, have stolen everything in the house. They will come and steal. They stole even the mattress in my bedroom. That’s why I locked him up.
“He is not the only one inside the house. My old grandmother is there too, I keep two of them inside so that nobody would harm them. He is blind and I am taking care of him.”
Mrs Anna also denied selling the property of the man, saying that as a civil servant working with Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of the state, she could very well afford to acquire land and build her own house.
She said that when her husband was still in service, the family members used to come and collect money from him, stressing that she had never stopped the husband from helping anybody, rather they were the ones that wanted her out of the house.
“When my husband was active with government they used to come and collect money. I never asked him to stop giving them. Is it a crime to be a second wife? I also have four children for him to take care of; I did not stop anybody from seeing him. I challenge them to come and see him if they so desire.”
As the Aren Akun indicated, the Executive Director, Human Rights Commission, Akwanga LGA, Gammun Blessing Tulari, is now handling the matter following the report made by the twin sons of the retiree.
Upon receiving the complaint, Tulari, Sunday Sun gathered, promptly ordered for investigation.
“I must be frank with you, this is purely a case of abuse and we will not fold our arms and watch the situation remain the way it is; we will get to the bottom of it.
“We have invited the woman for a discussion many times, but she has not honoured the invitation. We are preparing to file a case in court against the woman,” she said.