The gruesome and fatal death of Mrs. Elizabeth Yakubu, has again brought to the fore the endemic problems of domestic violence in Nigeria. According to the news story published online by Sunday Sun, March 29, 2009, Mrs. Yakubu was purportedly hurled down by her husband from the third floor of their house by her husband, Yusuf Yakubu, a 47-year old Senior Inspector with the Nigeria Customs Service.
It is instructive to state that Mr. Yakubu for the record, is denying the charge, he claims that his estranged wife took the fatal plunge herself following his refusal to allow her leave for her house shortly before midnight on the fateful day. Even if that were to be true, his admission still warrants at least a charge of criminal false imprisonment, a veritable tool in the hands of domestic violence perpetrators.
According to the report, Mr. Yakubu’s problem with his wife always starts when he drinks. Alcoholism and drug abuse most often are gateway to domestic violence. The report states that “Anytime he was drunk, he would turn her into a punching bag. She was always leaving him, but he would always go and beg her, saying he had changed.”
Sadly, in Nigeria we have no program geared towards addressing this type of problem. Most of our politicians are men anyway and they are active perpetrators themselves. I recall reading sometimes ago about a Nigerian first lady who boasted how her husband, the then Nigerian president, take pride in whipping her with a horse whip in front of her children if she refused to follow his instructions.
In Nigeria, a woman is expected to follow her husband instructions no matter how warped and illogic that instruction might sound. Nigerian Christians and pastors are directly culpable for this. They stressed the fact that the husband is the head of the wife. They stressed “the head” in the scriptural references they use to justify their stand even to the detriment of the biblical injunctions to husband to love their wife as Christ love the church. No Nigerian church, Pentecostal, orthodox or otherwise have any program directly addressing the prevalent problems of domestic violence in Nigeria. I have also not found any Islamiyya group combating this evil in our society.
Nigerian pastors will often preach against the many evils of “gays and lesbianism” in America and western society whilst they ignore “the specs” in their own eyes. The Imams in the North will rather preach a vitriolic sermon about the neglect of sharia laws in the north than address the injustice against women in many “purdahs” in Nigeria.
We are a nation with culture, they say, but how long will this culture that openly permits the neglect, abuse and discriminations against women last. There are many Yakubu’s in Nigeria who gets drunk at the beer parlor on his way home from work, and gets home to smack their wives around. In Nigeria, neighbors don’t call police to report a domestic violence, when you asked why; they say “we don’t wash our dirty linen in public.” Often time, my retort to them is that this is not just a dirty linen it is a crime. One of the laws my criminal procedure lecturer at the Nigerian law school stress “ad nauseam” is assault and battery. If we don’t report battery against defenseless women and children we should not expect help when those children grew up to invade our homes with armed gangs.
I asked a many Nigerian what aspect of Nigerian life needs immediate attention in what I called “priority of government” series (POGS). The unanimous agreement I got from my unscientific survey points inevitably to security. Not power generation, I guess Nigerian have resigned themselves to living in darkness for the rest of Yar’adua’s regime. No one even mentioned the global financial meltdown or the Nigerian stock exchange imbroglio. Everyone is uniformly concerned with the problem of armed robbery and violent crimes in Nigeria.
In a country where politicians hired armed gangs to run their campaigns Nigerians have cause for concern. I informed a friend recently that I am as impressed with the extreme makeover Governor Fashola is giving Lagos state as everyone else, but all these will be to no avail as long as the problem of security of life and property continues to “dog” the populace.
And it all starts with law enforcement, Nigerian don’t trust their security and para -military apparatus. The police officers carry guns at every “road blocks” and yet you can’t find them around when armed robbers strike at the same location. Sometimes the citizens of Nigeria can hardly distinguish between the armed robbers who invaded their homes at night and the one who invaded their pockets at the road blocks. The Nigerian army will forever live in infamy for the crimes committed against the Odi people on the order of then President Obasanjo.
Someone once said “in the state of lawlessness” it is illegal to be lawful. This is the state we are in Nigeria. This is why husband beat their wife with impunity and nothing happens. This is why we are raising kids who all they know is abuse, physical, mental and political. We have an attorney general that openly cuddles corrupt governors, and will do anything to ensure the long arms of the law will not reach his former clients.
Mrs. Elizabeth Yakubu’s life was wasted by her husband, just as Nigerian government in Abuja is wasting our hard earned democracy “while we stand aside and look.” Like Bob Marley sang years ago, “some says it is just part of it, we’ve got to fulfill the book” as our Imams and pastors regurgitate to our ears at every Sunday and Jumat services.
I say it is time to start a conversation with the pastors and imams and asked them why they keep as friends politicians who mortgage their congregation’s future. It is time to ask them why they refuse to engage the husband who drinks and beat his wife and kids all because he pays a fat tithe and offering.