- Blames granddaughter for exposing her
From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
A 70-year-old widow, Mrs Maria Oko, of Amauzu Nkpoghoro in Afikpo North council area of Ebonyi State, who was recently banished from the community for allegedly having sex with her 30-year-old boyfriend, Mr Okpanu Nwachi popularly known as Odoodo; a mechanic has given her account of the incident.
Her 19-year-old granddaughter, Uriaoma Abani, caught the woman while she was allegedly having sex with the man in her matrimonial bed. The act, according to the residents, was sacrilegious in the community.
Maria’s granddaughter, Saturday Sun gathered, had been noticing nocturnal movements of the young man in her granny’s room every night. She was said to have laid ambush for the two lovebirds and on that fateful night, caught the duo smooching.
Displeased by that lewd scene, she was said to have immediately raised the alarm, which prompted the villagers to storm the widow’s home. Some of the villagers, who converged at the scene, it was gathered, invaded her room and dragged the two lovers out of the house and locked the man in their cell. The duo was paraded around the village the following morning with scornful songs as punishment for their act. She was subsequently banished from the community after the parade.
As expected, reactions trailed the incidence. While some commentators threw their weight behind her, citing human rights, some others passed a damning judgement on her based on religious and cultural reasons.
However, the widow at the centre of the storm has stepped forward to absolve herself of any wrongdoing. She explained that the man was just a family friend who assists her financially. When Saturday Sun visited her residence in Amauzu Nkpoghoro, which is about two hours drive from Abakaliki, the state capital, she was seen carrying out some home chores.
The light-skinned granny who was not straight with answers when asked to tell her stories, however, accused her granddaughter of being mischievous.
“I wouldn’t say whether I committed that crime or not. It is my bad granddaughter who caused this public embarrassment to me because if she did not report to the community, I wouldn’t have suffered this type of public disgrace.
“If she was a good granddaughter, the youths wouldn’t have rung the community bell which caused my disgrace; my granddaughter would have shielded me if she was a good child”, she said.
Maria, who trades on local gin told Saturday Sun that she was attending to her customer (the alleged lover boy) at about 11:30pm when her granddaughter ran into her room and started shouting that she was having sex with the young man.
“My cell phone light was on and if I was having intercourse with the man, I would have switched off the phone but the light was on. So, my granddaughter shouted and reported to her uncle that she saw a man having intercourse with me. From there, the matter was reported to the youths and to the entire community and I was sanctioned.
“I have no problem with my granddaughter as to warrant her to report me
to the community that I was having sex with a man. This is a year and three months I took her to my house to stay with me. She gave birth and I took her to my house to stay with me so as to take care of her and I didn’t know that doing so will cause me problem by monitoring me and every step I took.
“Ever since I adopted my granddaughter, her husband doesn’t care how we are faring. It is even the man they said had sex with me that is taking care of her; at times, the man will buy uncooked foods including rice and some noodles and gave her to cook for him.
“The man will just eat a little from the food and leave the rest for her. When my granddaughter’s baby was sick, it was the man who went into the bush and got herbs used in curing the baby”, she explained.
The septuagenarian, however, agreed that the young man often visited her in the night and sometimes stayed into the midnight. But she was quick to clarify that he only comes to buy alcoholic beverages.
“Yes, the man actually visits our house regularly. He stays till 12 midnight at times. That fateful Sunday they said he had sex with me, he came with his friend from Ozziza community and left at about 10:30pm after drinking some bottles of beer.
“The man later came back to buy local gin which I was selling him when my granddaughter barged into my room with her own cell phone light and shouted that I was having intercourse with the man and started asking the man what he was doing with me”, she added.
Goat as a fine
She told Saturday Sun that she had paid a fine of one goat imposed on her by the community. “I have actually offered the goat the community asked me to bring for what they said I did. I have to give the goat since it is what they said I should give according to tradition.”
Although the accused widow absolved herself of all wrong doings, the residents of the community insisted that she was guilty as charged. “She was guilty. That was why we sanctioned her” they insisted.
A youth leader, Mr Justice Nwachi, confirmed that Maria’s granddaughter brought report that a certain young man often visited her granny in a manner the family members found offensive in the pretext of buying dry gins.
“So, that fateful night, the man came around 11pm and asked her granny to sell her drink. The girl reported that she waited for a long time but her granny didn’t return. So she went to the room and caught them having sex”, he added.
While corroborating Justice, another youth leader, Mr Agha Michael Chukwuemeka, pointed out that the episode lasted for three days.
One of the villagers, Egwu Azubuike, said the woman would have faced a greater punishment if her husband was still alive. He noted that the act has brought shame to the widow’s family, adding that she was among the most respected women in the community before the incident.
Saturday Sun gathered that it was a taboo for a widow to make love on her late husband’s matrimonial bed. To appease the ‘gods’, the tradition of Amauzu Nkpoghoro community demands that the accused person must offer a goat.
What the culture says
A community leader, Elder Nwachi Oko, told Saturday Sun that “If a woman stays in her husband’s house and commits adultery, she must offer goat to our community as custom demands. Once she does this, the case will be over; nobody will touch her, nobody will blame her and nobody will pursue her.
“If she refuses to offer the goat, she will stay in pains and it will now be between her and the husband. It will be a case between her and the husband. If the woman continues, refusing to offer the goat to cleanse the land according to our custom, some elders of the community will be dying.
“The women folk will sing disgraceful songs and parade the woman round the community to tell her that she defiled the land by committing adultery in her husband’s home. The women will carry rubbish from wastes bins and heap on the woman’s house. The rubbish will block the entrance to the woman’s house and the house will be sealed with palm fronds.
“But in this widow’s case, it was not done because the widow’s son was embittered on her mother’s act which he saw as a disgrace to the family and the community. The widow’s son was not happy about her mother’s character and that was why the community did not heap rubbish in their house.
“The blockage of a woman’s house with rubbish and palm fronds as sanction for committing adultery is for both widow and a woman whose husband is still alive. As for a widow, if she leaves the late husband’s community and commits the adultery, this will not be done to her because she is free to do whatever she likes since she has left the late husband’s community.”
Contributing, Comrade Christian Inya Agha, said that the community was not partial in handling the matter as it was an age long practice.
“Actually, this sanction has sent warning to other people in the community who have been doing this type of thing and getting away with it. For those of them who were doing this with boldness, this sanction has made them to be careful because they will also be sanctioned if caught” he said.
How the lover boy escaped punishment
The man caught with Maria was not punished. He was only sent out from the town as he was not an indigene of the community.
“According to tradition, nothing concerns the man. He is free. The punishment we gave him was that we sent him out of our community because he is not an indigene. If he was an indigene, he would have been fined a goat as well”, explained Agha Michael Chukwuemeka.