By Owei Lakemfa
THE wife of a former Head of State granted an interview that while in office, her husband regularly practiced his punching prowess on her.
She narrated a particular incidence when after beating her in the State House and stripping her naked, she ran out of the gate and tookÂ a taxi to her parents home only for her husband to pursue her there with soldiers. He demanded that his in-laws produce her or he would bring down the building. Of course the parents did not want their daughter killed and refused to produce her to the potential executioner. The soldiers, true to his words, attempted to destroy the house.
In a civilised setting, the Head of State would have been forced to resign and prosecuted. But those were the days of military rule and anarchism pervaded the land. Even if he had killed her, he would have gotten away with murder.
In those days when human life counted for little, the rich could get away with murder, especially if it had to do with a woman or their wives.
Things like that can be passed off by a good lawyer as purely â€domesticâ€,Â â€œprovocativeâ€ or an understandable â€œmoment of insanityâ€. So in Kano, a very rich gentleman, Nafiu Rabiu did not think twice before murdering his wife.
Nothing was supposed to have resulted from this incident but for some busybodies who decided to make an issue out of it.
The attendant publicity was so much that the man had to be taken to trial. The charge was culpable homicide. After an High Court trial, his resourceful lawyer, â€œThe Lawâ€ himself headed for the Supreme Court where a lot of things, including the intimidatingÂ presence of the lawyer counted and Rabiu got away with a four-year sentence!
At least there was some form of justice. Not so in the case of some Generals and their boys who murdered a house wife for campaigning against the continued criminal detention of her husband. Mrs Kudirat Abiola was relentless in her campaigns and would not yield.
The soldiers led by General Sani AbachaÂ decided that the best way of getting rid of an irritant was to eliminate it. So a death squad was sent after her. She was cornered in the Billingsway area of Lagos and riddled with bullets. The Generals got away with the murder; at least Sani Abacha was never charged.
His boys who were eventually charged under a different dispensation continue to employ the delay tactics they learntÂ in military school and those their lawyers learnt in the law school to delay justice. Today, there are all sorts of jingoists who argue that on account of the long judicial process, the accused should be set free. It does not matter to this group that the victim was a mother, housewife and humanbeing.
We have come a long way from those days of anarchism when might was right and if you are rich orÂ powerful, you can get away with murder.
Those who have recently tested our collective resolve on such matters are Rear Admiral Harry Arogundade and his four Navy body guards; C I Jeremiah, S A Bullen, S A Kariga and Francis Okolagu. These men conspired to use horse whips and gun butts toÂ panel-beat and almost snuff out the life of a young lady, Miss Uzoma Okere who was also stripped half naked by the gentlemen in uniform.
The public outrageÂ ensured that these culprits did not escape justice; Justice Opeyemi OkeÂ awarded Miss Okere and her colleague, Abdullahi Abdulazeez N100 million damages. Of course, the culprits may not lose any pay or seniorityÂ for battering a woman or bringing the Navy into disrepute, but the Navy that harbours such men is paying the price.
The most recent challenge on Nigerian women was posed by a royal father,Â Oba Oluwadare Adesina Adepoju, the Deji of Akure who apparently still lives in the past when the Oba can do no wrong and can commit any crime within his domain without being called to order.
The king still lived in the era when a man can do as he pleases with the woman, especially when she is his wife. He had some disagreementÂ with one of his wives, Olori Bolanle and since she was still within his domain, decided to invade her abode at 141, Hospital road, Akure. He did so with his thugs.
They did damage to the woman which sparked an outrage; how do you visit such violence on a lady even if she is your wife?
I am not sure Oba Adesina understood the era he is living in, but when there was a public outcry, especially by women groups, he soon knew he was in hot soup. Today, the Akure monarch who visited anarchyÂ on his â€œdomainâ€ has been removed as the traditional ruler of the self respecting Akure people, banished from his â€œkingdomâ€ and is facing criminal charges.
In a different sense, another man who should be facing criminal charges is Senator Yerima who in a contemptuous disregard of the Child Rights Act married an under-aged Egyptian girl. A man likeÂ Yerima, being used to a high level of impunity, does not see anything wrong with his criminal act which some of his colleagues perceive as a private affair.
Senator Yerima who was one of those who made the law, sees himself as being above it, and when confronted by an angry public tried to take shelter under religion and to whip up sectarian religious sentiments as he did when governor of Zamfara State.
He knows the laws he is contributing in making in the National Assembly are secular ones; so how does he teach the Zamfara child how to obey laws when he himself will not? Again, we have the challenge of men who are bent on dragging us back to the era of anarchy. I wonder how our senators can claim to be Distinguished if they agree to sit in the same chambers with people like Yerima.