By Abel Daniel
…Women seek herbalists’ help to find ‘missing cops’
“My husband is not dead. Therefore I won’t accept any money in lieu of him”. “Our husbands are not dead; they are only held hostage by alleged cultists. They can be rescued by herbalists”. These statements summarise the responses of some of the widows of the over 100 security officers killed in Nassarawa State by people suspected to be members of a cult. Life has not been the same for the widows and orphans since the demise of their bread winners.
To Mrs. Elisabeth Onoja, wife of Inspector Sunday Onoja, the reported death of her husband is still like a dream one month after. “I don’t believe he is dead because we have not been able to find his corpse”, she said.
“We were told that some of the affected security officials are still being held hostage by those people (cultists) at Lakyo. Since I have not seen my husband’s body, I believe he is one of those held hostage. We are begging government to do everything they can to release our husbands.”
When Sunday Vanguard visited her residence in Lafia, the state capital, the widow was in her bedroom praying and pleading with God to bring the missing husband back home safely. The woman, with six children to cater for, asked President Goodluck Jonathan and the state government to help the widows and children of the slain officers.
“I have six children; the first son just got admission at Nassarawa State University. The last boy is ten years old. All of them are in school. My worry is, who takes care of these children for me? I want government to at least take over the sponsorship of the education of the children of the officers who were on official assignment when they were attacked”.
For Mrs. Mary John from Ado local government area of Benue State, the wife of the late Sgt. Sunday John, the death of her husband has left a vacuum no one can fill. “When my husband left home that day, we thought, like any other day, that he was going to return only for him to come back as a corpse. I am worried daily about how to take care of our seven children”, she said.
“The IGP and the state governor have tried to alleviate our immediate challenges; but I want to beg them to please take over the sponsorship of the education of our children for the sake of my husband who served the nation with his blood. He died in active service. The only consolation they can give me and my children to help me sponsor them”
“The police, the wife of Governor Almakura and some other people gave us some food items. They gave me two bags of rice, one and a half bags of Semovita, one and a half gallons of groundnut oil and cartons of noodles. I thank them, may God reward them. But one bag of rice cannot take us to the end of the month”.
“I want government to help us with job. I can do cleaner job if I get one as I am not doing anything right now. I also want the IG to do everything possible to ensure our late husbands’ benefits are not delayed. This will help us”.
Sunday Vanguard also gathered that one of the wives of the slain police officers refused to claim the money given to the widows to take care of their immediate needs because she did not believe her husband was dead.
Mrs. Carol Ebosele, the secretary of Police Officers’ Wives Association (POWA), Nassarawa State chapter, said, “The leadership of POWA has made several attempts to encourage the woman (names withheld) to collect the relief token as that will not stop the husband from returning but she refused and would not allow anybody sympathize with her.
“The shock of the news of the death of the women’s husbands left some of them in hospital. While many of them don’t know how to continue with their lives, some have almost spent the cash given to them by the IG and the state governor, and now seeking the help of herbalists to rescue their husbands after being told by the herbalists that their husbands are held hostage by the alleged cult group”.
Mrs.Priye Gotto, Nassarawa POWA coordinator, also revealed that some of the widows’ husbands’ relations have hijacked the money given to them to take care of their immediate needs. “Some of them complained to us that while they were busy with their husbands’ burial arrangements, their husbands’ brothers collected the money and refused to give them a penny”, Gotto said.
“We are doing our best in to ensure that the widows are properly taken care of, especially those with many children. We encourage them to open bank accounts in their names so that the money can be paid directly to the accounts.
“The POWA leadership in the state has pledged to push the request of these widows to the national office of the association, and the nation’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, so that the poor widows are not neglected. As married women, we are all potential widows. It could happen to anybody”.