•Why partners kill each other
•The way out -Experts
By Perpetua Egesimba ([email protected])
Cynthia Nwofia was looking forward to the day she will tie the nuptial knot with her fiancé, Friday Njoku. But she did not live to witness the day. Last Wednesday, death came calling from the most unexpected quarter. The 25-year old lady was allegedly murdered by the man she loved so much at her residence in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State. Worse still, Njoku, her alleged killer, also committed suicide by drinking poison few hours after.
Cynthia’s elder brother, Mr Mishak Nwofia, said: “Friday Njoku was to become the husband of my late sister, having made his intention to marry her known. He even brought drinks to my family, which was accepted, although both of them have not officially been joined together as husband and wife as the tradition demands.”
Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah, confirmed the incident, saying the special anti-robbery squad visited the home of the residence of the alleged killer lover and found him dead. The PPRO added that a bottle of chemical was found with him even as there stains of the poison in his mouth.
In the same vein, few weeks ago, on the same day, two spouses in different locations in Nigeria, Benue and Lagos states respectively, decided to end the lives of their partners over allegations of infidelity and spiritual attacks.
In Adekaa community, Gboko, Benue State, 33-year-old Joshua Terkaa-Uhir, allegedly axed his wife, Lucy, a mother of two, to death over accusations of extramarital affairs. The couple was having some issues and the woman had gone to her mother to complain that her husband was maltreating her. Days later, she was murdered.
Giving an insight into the development, Lucy’s father said: “I only remember that last Friday, my daughter and her husband came to my house to resolve some issues they had. My daughter complained that the husband was maltreating her. She said he always came back home late and he was not feeding the family.
“And I agreed with her because she always came to my house with their two children every Sunday for food. I asked her to stay away from him for some time.”
On Sunday, my daughter went to the house after church service to pack some clothes. She went there alone. I asked her husband’s younger brother who stayed with me, to also join her. They were talking in the house when he suddenly locked the door and started beating her till he killed her.”
A neighbor said the woman ran away from the house, telling people that her husband was saying some people asked him to bring blood. She took their two children to her sister’s place and did not return.
Take this from a neighbour: “She showed up at the house again on Sunday afternoon (two days after going to her parent’s house with her husband to resolve some issues). She was alone with the husband in the house when they had an argument. As neighbours, we thought it was their usual disagreement, because they always fought like that. But it went on for about three hours. The noise later stopped.
“When nobody came out of the room, we had suspicions and broke the door. That was when we saw the woman in a pool of blood with a gash in her neck. The window at the back of the room was wide open and the man had disappeared.”
Confirming the incident, the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Yamu, said: “Detectives who visited the scene recovered a blood stained axe, which is suspected to be the murder weapon.”
Similar scenario played out same day in the Oto-Awori area of Lagos where one Folashade, a mother of two, allegedly stabbed her husband, Lawrence Idoko, to death. She was said to have used the knife she used to prepare food for her husband to cut his life short.
Sources volunteered that Lawrence and Folashade who had been married for four years were in the habit of trading punches before the incident happened. It was gathered that Lawrence, an engineer at Sango Ota, Ogun State, returned home on that day after a week-long official duty in the Ikorodu area. Folashade reportedly accused him of engaging in extra-marital affair and an argument ensued. And a fit of anger, Folashade reportedly grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her husband in the leg. He was later rushed to a hospital where he died.
In Plateau State also, a 40-year-old man, Victor Dashit, was arrested by the state police command for allegedly strangling his wife to death after impregnating their housemaid. It was gathered that Dashit was fond of sleeping with the maid and had been caught by the wife on more than three occasions and whenever the deceased insisted on the girl leaving the house, Dashit would beat her mercilessly.
The Plateau State Police Command Spokesman, ASP Terna Tyopev said Dashit lured the woman to the farm and strangled her to death and tried to cover up the act by telling people she had collapsed. Tyopev said that after killing his wife, Dashit invited his brother to help him to convey her to the hospital having lied to his brother that she slumped few minutes after she complained of feeling dizzy.
Investigation revealed that the rate at which people kill their spouses has reached an alarming level. From the southwest to the northeast and from the southsouth and southeast, it is the same story. Within the last three months, both online and mainstream media have been awash with stories of spouses hacking their partners to death.
Why they do it
According to the Commander of Lagos State Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Olatunji Disu, there are a lot of reasons for domestic violence. He said the hash economy, lack of education and lack of patience are contributing factors.
He said: “There are things that contribute immensely to domestic violence. When you no longer have enough patience, you can no longer cope and you don’t even know who or where to complain or run to.”
Disu explained that some acts of domestic violence are premeditated while some are not, adding that sometimes when violence crops up, the end or resultant effect cannot be predicted.
“The thing is, usually people that end up killing their spouses usually have had cases of domestic violence in their homes. It is a gradual thing which started from the first slap, constant beating and then graduates to killing,” he posited.
On the role of the police in curtailing the act, he said the police no longer condone the act of domestic violence as things are evolving.
“We are beginning to see that a wife can be raped if you have done the act against her consent. So, everything is evolving and we are working towards it. We will get there. If you don’t complain to us, we will believe everything is good. Don’t cover up, complain to us because the earlier the better.
“When you kill your spouse, there is nothing like it is a self defence. What is to be noted is that somebody has been killed; it is a case of murder. So, whether self defence or not, that has to be proven in the law court,” he submitted.
He regretted that domestic violence is on the increase and advised Nigerians to know that they should act on the first violence or the first beating they get.
He said: “Inform members of your family. Let your friends know what is happening. Then you know where to complain to, know when to get out, not all marriages are meant to last forever.”
On the signs to look out for, he said when the marriage becomes abusive, couples no longer feels compatible, feel they should get out of the marriage, the violent beatings continues unabated and quarrels between the couple can no longer be settled, people should know that violence is imminent and should take action.
“You should take the necessary precautions and I want to create an impression too, we have had violent cases against men too. Yes, spouses have been killing their husbands as well. I have had a case where a woman decided to poison her husband. So, these are signs and it’s of great concerns to the law enforcement officers.”
For consultant psychiatrist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Raphael Emeka Ogbolu, some of the people that kill their spouses have psychiatric conditions like major depression and other issues like morbid jealousy where they accuse their spouses of infidelity despite not having concrete evidence that their spouses are cheating on them.
He said others are people who maybe abusing substances and cannot control their temper.
His words: “Depression might be a possible cause of that but there are also some who have anti-social personality. These are some possible psychiatric conditions but not all of them can be classified as psychiatric condition.”
On the issue of premeditated cases, he said: “Only if there is a criminal tendency. Some of them, in a bit of psychological rage, may not be able to control their temper. In the case of women, it depends on the circumstances. One may have to do proper forensic audit of the circumstances. Those are the things that requires consultation of a psychiatrist with a forensic ability because you are going to try to work backward to see actually if it was in self defense or premeditated.
“I actually think that, considering the circumstances that the woman may have, a woman who kills her husband specially through things like poisoning is more likely to have premeditated it and could be as a result of her husband’s altitude towards her.”
He explained further that some of the men who physically abuse their wives sometimes feel that there is no other way out than to end it all, adding that some of them may not want to end their own life but may decide to end that of the man.
“Some are just angers based on what the situations are in the marriage, some others are because they think their husband is having extra marital affairs.
“The thing is, the causes that maybe responsible for a man killing his wife is applicable to the woman. The higher trend by women is by substance. Of course when someone is intoxicated with substances, they will not be able to control their actions. It is something that is common in men but there is a rising trend of women using substance as a way out.”
On possibilities that one’s spouse is likely to murder them, he stated that in a relationship where there is true love, where one’s spouse suggests that the person does love them, it is unlikely that the person will go to the extent of murdering them.
Highlighting the signs that one’s spouse is likely to kill them, Ogbolu said, there are people especially women who observe that there is no more love in a relationship but most of the time, the partner tends to ignore it.
“The tendencies that the man has started to beat you, showing emotional and sexual neglects, a situation where you both are almost living as strangers, some women will continue to condone that, and the biggest indication is violence. Anyone who has exhibited violence towards the spouse, that is a grey warning sign that the person could kill. Anyone who has done things like locking out the spouse out at night, voiced a threat that I will kill you, those are the signs that when you see, you need to be weary,” he pointed out.
For Principal Consultant, Center for Sex Education and Family Life, Praise Fowowe, what needs to be done to curtail or eradicate domestic violence in the society is sensitization and promotion of the dignity of humanity in a way that people will have respect for human lives and actually resolve issues through communication against domestic violence.
Fowowe said: “Awareness is the way to go. From birth, when we give birth to our children, be it a boy or a girl, a child should be a child and not a boy being superior to a girl or the other way round. This is because boys who are superior girls will become men who are superior to women or husbands who are superior to their wives. And once the superiority and inferiority complex comes in, one person will die for the other person to live.
“When you have a man or a lady who has a temper problem, you need to get them a help. You know, when people talk about domestic violence, they think about men alone. A woman can actually be violent to a man domestically through verbal or even physical means. When you have your wife talk to you anyhow, you can also lodge a report so that she can get help because anyone who is temperamental needs help, and therapy can actually resolve those issues.”
Fowowe added that nobody kills anybody out of love, as people kill out of frustration. When people are pushed to the wall, he said, they would want to get back and bite back.
“People kill their spouses out of provocation and bitterness and not love. Your upbringing can control you to abuse your spouse. For instance, in a home where a father beats the wife always, the children are likely going to pick up that habit,” he argued.
He further stated that culture and religion are also responsible for some of the problems people face in their marriages. “I am sure that there are religious groups that actually encourage their men to beat up their wives. Some men cannot stand their wives talking to them whereas they say yes ma to their madams at work. Why not say because I am the man, I must be the managing director? So, why do some men pretend? I think culture and religion combined have killed a lot of people.
“The covenant of life is superior to the covenant of marriage. It is better to have someone alive than to have someone who is dead. It is only someone who is alive that can love. Separation is for safety. Some will say don’t separate, set up a prayer room and you forget that you can even be killed in that prayer room. Our culture is so messed up and it is hypocritical. We should trash the parts that are not working for us, the part that does not comport the dignity of humanity. The contract you signed up for was a marriage, not a boxing ring.”
Director of Office of Public Defender (OPD) in Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Olubukola Salami, said the state government has put in place a lot of policies and laws to safeguard victims and also prevent domestic violence in the state.
She urged women not to condone any form of domestic violence and always report to get help. “Women should not condone domestic violence no matter how little it is. Always report it and if you find out that your neighbor is abusing his or her partner, please come to the Office of Public Defender or Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) or the police. All these organizations have been put in place by the governor to assist, and prevent the loss of lives and maiming of anybody in the state.
“What we normally do is, we try and follow up with the police so that they do the needful and ensure that the case is not swept under the carpet. We make sure that the police investigate and the case charged to the court at the end of the day.”