From Wilson Okereke, Afikpo
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” so goes the line in William Congreve’s play, The Mourning Bride.
That situation is currently playing out in a community in Ebonyi State, where an aggrieved woman is up in arms with her husband for his inability to have sex with her.
“I want out: take your dowry and let me go!” There are the words from Elizabeth Omeh, from Ngbo community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State to her husband, James. She has vowed to return the dowry the man paid to her parents to the government treasury.
The woman, a nurse, told a special court – the Family Law Centre in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, that her marriage to her husband was rushed, alleging that all the marriage rites and wedding took place within two weeks. She said the family of her spouse presented one of their healthy sons by name Johnson to her and deceived her into marrying him. But she said the family actually knew that James was the one they had in mind. Unfortunately, she said, James had been going through some health challenges.
Omeh lamented that her husband never had sex with her, not even for once in the 12 months that they had been living together as husband and wife. She said whenever she broached the subject or make advances at him as her lawfully wedded husband, her husband would give her the beating of her life. She expressed deep concern that she could not enjoy conjugal relationship with a man that was called her husband.
The distraught woman, who stated that she already had a child before the purported marriage, said she eventually discovered that her man had been mentally deranged previously and still suffered from epilepsy which has defied all medical attentions and invariably had affected his reproductive system.
Omeh insisted that she could no longer continue with the marriage because of the man’s state of health and his family’s deceitful approach to her, even though the wedding took place at the Methodist Church, Ngbo Diocese,.
She accused the man’s family of not showing remorse by coming to her parents to seek peaceful resolution of the issue since three years ago that she left their place and returned to her parents’ home.
Narrating her ordeal, Omeh said: “I had a baby boy before the family came to marry me, but the people in their deceitful nature presented the sick man’s younger brother to me.
“After the traditional marriage, when I had gone to stay with them, they then introduced the sick man to me as my husband.
“The man is mentally ill. He suffers epilepsy and impotence. He does not talk from morning till night, and even in the night in most cases, he would attack me with a cutlass. During one of the occasions, he wanted to kill me simply because I wanted to arouse him sexually.
“In another incident, he nearlystrangled me to death as I was sleeping. Since I left the place, I have spent three years in my father’s house without any information from them. So now, I want to be free from them. Another day, he nearly killed me because I tried to arouse him for sexual intimacy as my supposed husband. He beat me until I fainted.
“Let them come and collect the money which they paid to my parents as dowry.” The complainant’s brother, Sunday, corroborated what Omeh said. “She is my sister. It is true that the people told us that the man is sick but we did not know that his health condition is a complex type. The damage on our sister is too much; the man is insane and wanted to kill her.
For three years now, they have never asked about her. I don’t want the man to kill my sister. I am appealing to the court to take another step and save the life of my sister,” he stated.
Also, Omeh’s mother; Josephine told the court that her daughter had passed through hell and serious emotional trauma since the purported deceitful marriage was contracted.
She said: “There is no need giving them another chance because they deceived my daughter and the entire family. The man in question was just brought to our compound once. On the particular day that he was brought to our home on motorcycle, we only greeted; he didn’t even come down from the machine for us to notice anything.
“Subsequently, the sick man’s brother started coming to our house to represent him, confusing my daughter with the promise that his brother would take her abroad for further studies in her nursing career. But it was all deceit.” But the husband, James, dismissed all the allegations, saying he had no problem with his wife.
In his reaction, he said: “She is making me to be amused. We didn’t have any problem before she left for her home. I had attended a burial and in the night, she demanded sex but I said no because I was tired. Along the line, I hit her and she left that day.”
On his part, James’ brother wondered why his brother’s wife and her family claimed that they were deceived when according to him, they had known every detail. He stated that marriage was not just what one walks in and walks out of because it was a case of ‘for better, for worse’ for the couple.
“My brother is sick and we looked for a wife for him, with the help of our in-law. We eventually found Elizabeth. Before anything, we told her that the man (James) is sick and she answered, ‘no problem that she’s ready to marry even if he is an old man.’ We came and did all the things needed.
“During preparation for the marriage, my elder brother visited them many times. She accepted and they were wedded at the Methodist Church. Why is she complaining?
The vow is till death do them part,” he said. In her ruling, Chairman of Ebonyi State Family Law Centre, Mrs. Elizabeth Nwali said they lacked the powers to dissolve marriage but would not force people to remain husband and wife when their relationship had become irredeemable.
“Since the woman has said that she will not continue with the marriage sequel to the deceit, constant beating and the man’s state of health which defied all medical attentions, we cannot force her.
We have no competent jurisdiction to dissolve marriages but at worst she could go to the welfare office in their local government and pay in the rejected bride price into government treasury and move on,” Nwali declared.