The night that bore February 21 was raunchy for Abosede Idowu and her boyfriend, Aliyu Ibrahim. The exciting time at Ibrahim’s apartment that night was meant to linger on in the memories of the two lovebirds for days. From the previous evening to the early hours of that Friday, fun flowed freely in the lovers’ comfort zone tucked in the ambit of Sagamu – a vast, sprawling city in Ogun State.
But just a few minutes for them to bid each other goodbye while looking forward to yet another enthralling time, they slid into a dark mood. By the time the dust settled on their argument over a sum of N3,000, Idowu had allegedly driven a knife into her lover’s chest.
On the spur of the moment, the glowing feelings that once enveloped them became forlorn. Amid the confusion that followed, Idowu landed in police custody much to her chagrin. The 18-year-old never presumed such a trivial matter could suddenly blight the overflow of love and the sweet memories of the night before.
“On interrogation, the suspect claimed that she came to pass the night with the deceased and when she was about going in the morning, she took N3,000 from the deceased but he was not ready to part with the whole N3,000. That was what led to argument between them,” the police spokesperson in Ogun, Abimbola Oyeyemi, had said.
“She further stated that it was the deceased who brought out the knife and while dragging it with him, the knife stabbed him in the chest,” Oyeyemi stated, adding that the Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, had ordered the immediate transfer of Idowu to the homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigation and prosecution.
In the coming days and months, the teenager would have her days between court and custody, while battling the gruelling tales of prison life, depression and loneliness.
While the immediate cause of the fatal incident appears trivial, the native of Ijebu-Aiyepe has been exposed to foggy parts of life serious enough to tell on the psychological state of anyone in her shoes.
After losing her mother when she was an infant, the teenager said she was not privileged to have proper parental care to prepare her emotionally for the challenges ahead.
“I don’t really have a work I do since I finished my secondary school education. I’m just planning to learn a skill,” she revealed in an encounter with Sunday PUNCH during the week.
She told our correspondent her father rejected her because she fled from Lagos where she was taken to work as a salesgirl with a woman, who reportedly accused her of stealing.
“I started living with a pastor known as Baba Cele in Ogijo (Ogun State) after my father rejected me. The pastor took me to where I would learn hairdressing but he didn’t have money to obtain the form for me and pay for other things the master requested. The registration fee was N1,500,” Idowu, who cut a distraught figure, explained, adding that she went into prostitution afterwards.
She continued, “I started passing the night in my customers’ houses. Initially, the pastor wasn’t aware that I am into prostitution. The excuse I usually gave him if I got home late was that I went to Sagamu and he wouldn’t bother to ask me what I went there to do. I have sex with two or three different men every day and I charge N2,500 for each session.
“Ibrahim was an okada (motorcycle) rider. He used to carry me without collecting fare. When he noticed that I am into prostitution, he asked me out and we started having love affairs. We had sex about five times. I can’t really remember when we started dating.
“That morning, he accused me of stealing his N3,000. He searched me and found N3,700 in my pocket. I got the money from one of my customers. After he collected the money from me, I begged him to give me N500 to take a bus back to Ogijo but he didn’t listen. He pushed me on his bed and tried to strangle me. I defended myself but when I saw him holding a knife. I was scared. I just managed to collect the knife from him and threw it on the floor. I never knew that he would fall on the knife.”
The tragedy was one of the several instances of gruesome and untimely deaths caused by disagreements between lovers over frivolous matters.
Minor problems, fatal endings
All was rosy when Sina Kasali, a butcher in Abosule, Agbado area of Ogun State, tied the knot early in 2008 with his wife, Sherifat. The union produced three children to the delight of family and friends who never envisaged the 36-year-old trader would one day beat her spouse to death.
Early December 2018, three months after they welcomed a new baby into the family, Sherifat accused her husband of peeping into the private parts of a neighbour said to be a commercial sex worker. Kasali felt insulted and in a fit of anger, he descended on her for being rude.
He pummeled the mother of his children until she collapsed and watched her dying slowly inside their room.
He reportedly refused to take her to the hospital and did not allow her to be treated by a nurse invited by a neighbour. Although Kasali denied beating his wife that day during a chat with our correspondent, he admitted to have turned her to a punchbag over time.
He had said, “My wife and I had been living together peacefully until some bad women in our compound started influencing her. Those women drink. She was always with them whenever I went to work. That was how she became a drunk too and she started being rude to me.
“I did not beat her that day. She accused me of gazing at a neighbour’s backside and I warned her not to accuse me of such a thing again. She began to abuse me and I slapped her.
“She wanted to go and fetch water and I warned her not to go and she started abusing me. She wanted to go by all means and I pushed her. She lay on the bed and held her stomach. She was groaning with pains. I called my brother to get a car so that we could take her to a hospital. While I was waiting for my brother, a nurse came. The nurse was somebody I had sold meat to sometime ago and refused to pay me.
“We fought each other before she eventually paid me and since then, we have not been talking to each other. It was because of that I did not allow her to treat my wife.”
It was a similar inconsequential issue that snowballed into violence that sent a 47-year-old teacher in Ogun State, Gbemisola Edward, and her 11-year-old daughter, Dolapo, to their graves sometime in August 2016.
Her husband, Joshua, was said to have poured petrol on her, and Dolapo and set fire on them. Mother and daughter died of burns at a hospital.
Joshua reportedly went haywire after his wife declined his request to sell the three-bedroomed apartment they resided on Ire Akari Estate, in the Ifo Local Government Area of the state.
Gbemisola’s brother, Wale, told our correspondent that the relationship had been fraught with quarrels.
“When he knew my sister had built a house, he went there to reconcile with her. He said needed money to do a business and asked my sister to sell the property to raise the money. It was one Thursday afternoon that I got a call that he set her and the child ablaze,” Wale added.
Flimsy as the aforesaid occurrences appear, their types – and even worse – are replete across Nigeria and have resulted in many needless deaths. When Bukola Odeyemi, a 300-level student at the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, and her boyfriend, John, started their relationship, it was on a good note.
Some months after, on September 17, 2019, it ended bloody at a hostel off the campus. The 20-year-old student allegedly stabbed her boyfriend to death when an argument ensued over N2,500 she wanted to use to plait her hair but which John reportedly declined to give her.
Domestic violence is a problem in Nigeria, and it cuts across all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. A 2013 report by the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey disclosed that nearly three in 10 Nigerian women have experienced physical violence since age 15, while 11 per cent experienced any physical violence in the past 12 months (2012). The survey revealed that 43 per cent of women believe a husband is justified in beating his wife for a number of reasons, including going out without telling him, or neglecting the children. However, in recent times coupled with increased advocacy, such perception is waning.
A report by an online journal, BMC Women Health, stated that “Almost one in four women in Nigeria reported having ever experienced intimate partner violence (IPV).”
The World Health Organisation defines IPV as any behaviour within an intimate relationship by an intimate partner that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to those in the relationship.
Over the years, domestic violence was seen as being perpetrated by men against women, but reports have indicated that intimate partner violence against men is a reality in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
In the United States, domestic violence is said to have affected 7.6 per cent of males, while in South Africa, four in every reported 10 domestic violence cases, are men, according to a WHO report.
While residents of London Barber Street, Majidun, a swampy neighbourhood in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, were reveling in the Christmas mood on December 2016, a housewife, Christiana Odo, went violent against her husband, Rominus, for failing to provide money for the family during the celebration.
“The woman asked the man for money for food, but the man turned down her request, saying he didn’t have money. This led to an argument and the man hit her. They fought and the woman, in anger, went into the kitchen and got a knife with which she stabbed him to death.
“What attracted neighbours was the man’s scream for help as he was drenched in blood. The woman said it was not intentional,” a police officer, who is privy to the incident, had told Sunday PUNCH.
Petty as the misunderstandings were, experts observed that there were underlying causes culminating in the tragic deaths.
They noted that minor issues were mere triggers, while the main causes of violent and deadly spousal clashes were in-depth.
Tackling the big issues
A counselling psychologist, Mrs Oluwatosin Togun, said acceptance was important in a relationship, nothing that problem actually started from courtship.
She stated, “There are some things the couple take for granted when they are courting and one of them is acceptance. In psychology, we have resolvable and irresolvable conflict. Resolvable conflicts are those that are trivial and can easily be resolved.
“Irresolvable conflict has to do with personalities. When a person you want to marry tells you things like ‘I would have loved if you are taller or shorter than this. Or I love you but I am not comfortable with your parents.’ These are major issues they will endure and move on believing that things will jell in the long run.
“Those things if not properly managed become a source of annoyance from time to time. It is just little thing that has happened but the causes of that annoyance and violence is more than what has just happened. It is the fact that you could not imagine yourself getting married to this person.”
Togun, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Sure Hope Counselling Clinic in Ibadan, Oyo State, explained that there was the need to take premarital counselling seriously to stem the tide of domestic violence.
She said, “The way out is premarital counselling which I don’t think many people buy into. People spend much time in preparing for their career, forgetting there is a stage they would get to and the career could be marred in three days, like in the case of a lawyer who stabbed her husband to death. The career she built over the years got wasted because she didn’t prepare for marriage.”
She said during premarital counselling, personality check would be carried out to know the level of temperament of the intending couples, their weaknesses and strengths.
“There is also a need for SWOT Analysis in courtship to know the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You don’t get into a marriage and expect a lizard to become an alligator. If you know the opportunities your partner has before marriage, you don’t need to start mounting pressure after marriage.
“It is not enough that a pastor helps to pray and says that is your wife or your husband. Nigerians have to embrace counselling if truly we want our marriages to be stabilised and be better. Although the church does premarital counselling, it not the same thing as when a psychologist is taking you through that particular course,” the counsellor added.
In his view, a former Director, Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr Mahfouz Adedimeji, blamed violent clashes among lovers on the lack of emotional maturity.
He noted, “Maturity is not just biological. It may be physical, psychological and experiential. But when people talk of maturity, they only talk of biological one, when somebody becomes an adult and have the secondary sexual characteristics.
“Couples must naturally have issues. There is no way couples will not quarrel but when people are mature enough to appreciate the fact that conflict is part of life, they will learn to make the conflict functional. If the conflict degenerates into violence, it is a sign of immaturity on the part of a couple.
“If they were mature, they would have been able to appreciate the fact that there is no way two persons would be living together without having disagreements, and when disagreement occurs, what they need to do is to let go.”
The associate professor of English also stated that with emotional maturity, partners would be able to analyse the strengths and threats in any conflict and leverage effective communication to resolving issues.
He added, “Effective communication is what people need to develop. With this, people will not just be talking at each other but they will be able to communicate. The basis of any relationship is love and if love is no longer there, there is no need for violence. It is better they go their different ways.
“Emotional intelligence is always crucial in dealing with spousal issues. And by the time we appreciate the value of effective communication, we will realise that there is nothing under the sun that we cannot discuss.”
In his comment, a sociologist and lecturer at the University of Lagos, Prof Lai Olurode, attributed rising cases of marital violence to a departure from indigenous cultural norms underpinning marriage. He said the length of courtship and mode of recruiting marriage partners had been eroded by western culture.
He stated, “Of course change is a reality; we cannot continue to live the ways of our forefathers. But at the same time, within that change process, we need to domesticate. If change is not properly managed, these are some of the consequences we would be witnessing. In the past, marriage is rarely between individuals; rather it is between two families. And it is not contracted in a matter of days or couple of months. It is a long-term process and the couples are not directly involved.
“The families get to know each other more and more and the survival of the marriage is a factor of the test the strength of the relationship between the two families. But nowadays, some institutions have come up to say they recruit marriage partners. Now, individuals are the one deciding the length of courtship and in most cases they won’t involve their parents because the parents have suddenly become uncivilised.
“They cannot therefore do something that will last for them. The opportunity to know the other partner is weak. A partner can pretend to be a nice man or woman to get what they want. By the time they discovered they got married to a wrong partner, it might be too late.”
The scholar called for ‘a deliberate government policy’ to promote intercultural literacy so that intending couples of different ethnic and religious backgrounds can fully understand their respective beliefs and norms before marriage.
“There is also a need for parental involvement. We should not leave the children alone. I believe time has come when we should be more tolerant of single girls who have decided to take their time before marriage,” he added.