Unnecessary and unjustifiable killings are becoming a daily affair in Nigeria. Between Boko Haram, armed robbers, rampaging herdsmen and ritualists, avoidable death visits the nation with monotonous regularity. The majority of those killed are completely innocent of any offence, and even if they were guilty, the correct procedure would be to charge them to Court and have them convicted. Killings related to land disputes have been going on since time immemorial as indeed have well documented cases of extra-judicial killings.
Spousal murder of wives by their husbands has also been a regular occurrence. The reasons for wife killing are as varied, far-fetched, mundane or ridiculous as can be imagined. For example, Mathias Eze a former Commissioner in the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) shot and killed his wife in front of his daughter because she failed to prepare food for him.
Christian Agba strangled his wife in frustration over her refusal to grant him his matrimonial conjugal rights. A washer-man Henry Nnamdi killed his wife because he believed she was guilty of an extra-marital affair. A middle-aged man Peter Odion allegedly killed his wife for eating his food! She said she had a headache and could not cook food. When he decided to cook for himself she ate the food.
In his annoyance he killed her. A young man Bassey Effiong killed his girlfriend over a phone handset. Apparently, Bassey had limited finances and when the love of his life started to use a brand new expensive handset he believed she was having an affair with a rich man who bought it for her so he killed her.
Another woman Janet Odeghgbe was set on fire by her husband simply because she accepted a glass of wine from another man at a party! Naomi Chidiebere was also set on fire by her husband when she quarrelled with him for always coming home drunk. On the night in question he was so drunk that it was only when he sobered up in the morning and tried to wake her from sleep that he realised what he had done. Wife murder isn’t limited to only to the drunk, volatile and ungodly.
Rev Sunday Alfa, a Senior Pastor of United Evangelical Church murdered his wife a mother of four children for refusing to sleep with him because she had recently given birth by caesarean section. As if all this wife killing isn’t enough, the new fad nowadays seems to be husband killing by wives. The Nigerian Police recently confirmed the arrest of Maryam Sanda for stabbing her husband Bilyaminu Haliru Bello to death. Reports have claimed that she killed her husband by stabbing him multiple times after seeing text messages in his phone which suggested that he was engaged an extra-marital affair.
In an act of apparent remorse, after the stabbing Maryam drove her husband to the hospital where she allegedly confessed to medical staff that she was responsible. Newspapers and the social media are increasingly full of stories concerning murder of husbands in the matrimonial home. It increasingly appears as if wives of nowadays prefer life imprisonment or a death sentence to mere divorce.
Surprisingly this phenomenon of wives killing their husbands seems to be more prominent amongst the relatively financially well off. Poor women tend to struggle through life taking care of their children no matter what. Women who have extravagant lavish society weddings and who would not unduly suffer financially from any divorce settlement seem not to be able to confront the reality of their situation. They cannot see that they are to blame for any breakdown in their relationship and just find it difficult to believe that marriages can last in modern day society. But of course, this isn’t true.
Although undeniable privileged the Queen of England and her husband Prince Phillip recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. It’s a mindboggling achievement in this day and age where marriages crash after relatively few years. Those whose marriages have collapsed or who are struggling to cope will find it difficult to understand how any marriage can be so cordial, respectful and most importantly replete with love after so many years. The truth of the matter is that success in marriage revolves around the selection process. In the old days parents would do this selection on behalf of their children and marriages tended to remain stable, and the couple struggled together through their problems.
Today’s youth assert their right to choose their partners and they increasingly appear unable to make the right choice. Surprisingly the recipe is quite simple. Those whose marriages last are clever or insightful enough to understand that their partner must have a similar life to their own. If a woman rates the fidelity of her husband to be of overriding importance, then she should not go ahead to marry a “player” or Casanova, because the marriage is doomed from the start. If the man has made a success of his life by being careful with money and saving for the future, and she loves to live for today and spend like money is going out of fashion, he will not put up with it for long, and the marriage will fail.
Unfortunately, the realities for most women in Nigeria are that murders are only a minute fraction of the daily domestic violence. For each spousal murder reported there are hundreds of unreported spousal battering cases. Social commentators clam that women are becoming the perpetrators of spousal murder in retaliation for a history of abuse. With the lack of marriage guidance counsellors, the unwillingness of family and friends to get involved in other people’s relationships, and the characteristic philandering of African men, and the assertiveness of the modern African woman cases of wives murdering their husbands can only be expected to increase.