In the past, domestic violence was seen as something perpetrated by men against women. Back then, disgruntled ladies limited themselves to tearing men’s clothes, or delivering a few slaps if they were bold enough! This is no longer the case. Increasingly women are being arrested for stabbing men to death. Men are now advised never to quarrel with a woman in the kitchen because that is her arsenal! In cases concerning wives, they would have gone through years of neglect, physical abuse or infidelity before resorting to stabbing.
Chidinma Adaora, a UNILAG Mass Communication student, has been trending since she was arrested and confessed to stabbing, not her husband but her “lover”, Mr Usifo Ataga. They might have been “lovers” but certainly were not in love! Increasingly, Nigerian men have so called “side chicks” to supplement their wives’ efforts. This is especially true when the wife has been through labour, ante-natal, post-natal, and breastfeeding on more than one occasion. Husbands happily celebrate the arrival of the newborn, publicly thank their wife profusely, then make plans to enjoy themselves with youthful females who have not had children and are devoid of stretch marks and sagging body. It’s been posited that the majority of Nigerian men cheat because they are unsatisfied sexually, but choose to remain with their wives because they are good at looking after the home and children. As for “side-chicks”, it’s not always true that parents contribute towards their waywardness. Although a good home environment is essential, if children turn out well, it’s not because their parents did anything special; it’s just luck. Some parents do everything and their children still turn out bad, while others do nothing and their children excel.
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As expected, people have divergent views on the issues surrounding Ataga’s killing. Some blame him, others the accused, while others blame the victim’s wife. His family pleads for an end to derogatory statements because his relations loved him and his children are grown enough to read all the castigations of their father’s amorous escapades.
There are many unanswered questions and investigations must continue especially in the light of the victim’s elder brother’s statement that he had a broken neck and had been gagged, bound, and tortured with his hands tied, injuries which could not possibly have been inflicted by Chidinma.
Although the public have a right to know the facts, the police acted with routine unconstitutionality in parading Chidinma, before charging her to court. Confessions obtained by police are normally suspect because more often than not they are obtained under duress.
However Chidinma’s case was different. She exhibited no external evidence of physical manhandling, was not handcuffed or restrained in any manner, and was impeccably styled with make-up in place. It was the height inappropriateness for police to allow the press to interrogate her in the absence of any legal representation before charging the case to court. It would be a dangerous precedent if tapes of her TV interview and confession are tendered in court as evidence.
As expected, there has been an outpouring of sympathy for the victim’s wife. However, things may not be as they seem. When women finally get men to commit to marriage, they believe the hardest part is done, but the truth is that while beauty and brains can get you married, only good character can keep you together. There are allegations that the wife was not virtuous, the marriage was over, the couple lived apart, and DNA tests allegedly revealed one of the children wasn’t his. Indeed within a few years of hobnobbing as a Personal Assistant (PA) in government circles, she was inexplicably able to afford a house in Banana Island! Everyone connected to the victim should be a suspect. Indeed there is a growing belief that Chidinma may have been an accomplice in a scam that went horribly wrong. While men are demonising the 21-year-old, the fact is that her victim was a 50-year-old man.
As has been aptly pointed out, the ethical system in Nigeria is depreciating daily, creating a society which prioritises wealth over morals. Many commentators feel Chidinma’s guardians failed because she was dating a man old enough to be her father. The unfortunate truth is that this is now normal in Nigeria where men openly marry under-aged girls, and a billionaire who already has a sizeable harem is celebrated for marrying a girl young enough to be his granddaughter. The issue doesn’t only concern young girls indulging in amorous relationships for money simply to be able to show-off in designer accessories; it also concerns supposedly responsible adults not living up to expectations.
The victim isn’t “innocent” simply because he was killed. There is an Igbo proverb which says: “If fools do not come to the market, rotten meat will not sell!” There are many who have commented derisively that any 50-year-old man carousing with a 21-year-old has already given himself a death sentence! It’s nothing short of an outrage that in Nigeria these days, older men cavorting with young girls is done openly in public places. Tragically, such behaviour has ruined a young lady’s life and a father is dead.
The claim that Chidinma behaved the way she did because she was involved in drugs holds no water. No drug or alcohol causes the fundamental ills of our society. The problem is caused by stupidity, ignorance, love of the “good life” through any means, and love of unnecessary luxury material possessions.
The most pertinent aspect of the whole issue is the question of what can be done to prevent the increasingly regular occurrence of such tragedies. Both government and society have a role to play. Morality must be taught both in homes and in school. The deification of flamboyant life styles must cease. It has made young females believe that owning the most expensive I-phone, and dressing in designer clothes and accessories, are far more important than being known for integrity, compassion, living within your means and helping others. Until this happens, unfortunately, there will continue to be beclouded tragedies.