By Esther Onyegbula
Life, for 28-year-old Folashade Ayetan, a mother of four, has not been a bed of roses.
Without respite, her life has been garnished daily with psychological, emotional and physical torture.
Folashade’s troubles began when she became pregnant 11 years ago at the age of 17, while in Jss 3. Naïvely, she thought that getting married to a man who promised her heaven on earth would provide an escape route or, at least, give her succour. Little did she know that her
marriage to a police officer currently serving at Onireke Divisional Police Station, in Ojo, Lagos, would make her sad.
Looking haggard with her twins, Taiwo and Taiye, Shade recounts her ordeal to Crime Guard:
“I have come to the media because this is the only option. I want Nigerians who will read my story to come to my rescue, save me from the cruel hands of my husband. I live every minute of my life in fear. No doubt, I have made some silly mistakes but, I t think I have suffered so much in silence and now, I am speaking out because I need help urgently.
I was born in 1987. My life is a very complicated one. I got pregnant when I was in JSS 3 and had a baby girl and could not continue schooling. Later, I learnt how to sew clothes.
My problem started after my father chased me out of his house. I began to sleep in a bakery in the area. It was during this period that I met my husband Michael, a police officer and he promised to help me out. That was when I began to date him before I started living with him. My daddy chased me out of the house after he married his last wife, Iya Liade. she manipulated my father till he chased my mother out of the house.
FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE BUBBLE BUST
“We have been together for about five years now but, we dated for a year before I became pregnant for our first child. He didn’t pay my dowry. When he came to see my parents, there was serious disagreement because when I was three months pregnant, he took me to his village to live with his family in a camp at Akure.
Initially, he told my parents that we were going to see his parents in Akure. But he kept me there for almost two years. While I was living with his parents in Ijoka road camp, his mother taught me how to cook their native food because I am Yoruba and he is Calabar. He stopped me from wearing trousers and make-up which I obeyed to make him happy.
Any time we had misunderstanding, he would beat the hell out of me. Even when I was pregnant, the beating continued unabated. He refused to give me money to register in the hospital for ante-natal.
I carried the pregnancy till I delivered. It was in his mother’s room that I delivered. It was God that saved me because after giving birth, they took the baby boy, Godwin, who is now 4 years old, went outside for celebration but abandoned me even while the placenta wasn’t out. It was his father that raised alarm and rescued me.
Three weeks after delivery, he beat me up mercilessly because I bathed my baby when his mother went to a village market. Usually when she goes to the village market, she spends three days before returning, which was why I decided to bath him because Mama was not around. Two days later, I fell ill. I was sick for about ten days without medical care.
It got to a point when I was throwing up and also cleaning my vomit. When I recovered, I went to appeal to the Bale in the community where we lived to plead with my husband to take me back to my family in Lagos.
All these while, I didn’t know my family, especially my mother, had been calling and asking him to bring me back but he would tell them that he would give me the phone to speak with them which he never did. When I came back to Lagos, I found out that my family members made efforts to reach out to me but my husband prevented them because I didn’t have a phone.
ESCAPE TO THE VILLAGE
When the trouble became unbearable, I told them that I wanted to go back to my family with my baby, they refused. They took my seven weeks old baby and chased me out. I practically begged for transport fare from people which I used to get to my village in Owo. My maternal uncle took me to the hospital. I was admitted in three different hospitals. I was at Oke-Mopo hospital before I was moved to Oke-oja hospital at Iyere-Owo. Later, I was transferred to Oke-Mopo-Iyere Medical Centre.
When I was discharged from the hospital, my uncles in Owo invited my father to a meeting to decide my fate because they felt he contributed to my problems. He honoured the invitation and after the discussion, he took me back to his house in Lagos. While I was living with my father, my husband began to plead for forgiveness, saying that it was the devil’s work and that he was a changed man, that he had gone to different churches and they said he must come and ask for forgiveness for all the wrong he did to me otherwise our son would die.
That his life would be miserable without me. He went to my village to plead with relatives. He insisted that he couldn’t marry any other person but me. I told him that I preferred to live under my father’s roof and I was no longer interested and that I have had enough of the beating, humiliation and misery.
BACK TO MY FATHER’S HOUSE
After I returned to my father’s house, it did not take time for his attitude towards me to change. He kept on lamenting that I was a source of shame and disgrace to him and the family because I gave birth at home and also had a failed marriage. I kept pleading with him to have compassion on me. I sold fuel. I made clothes for people to enable me provide for my children.
All I asked of my father was to shelter me and my children. There was a day I beat his dog for bringing in disposed pampers from the refuse dump into the house. There was nothing my father did not say because I beat his dog. He said I must return back to the father of my children and that I was no longer welcomed in his house.
My father frustrated me to the extent that I drank poison to commit suicide because I wanted to end it all. Luckily for me, they rushed me to the Grace land hospital. He called my husband to come and take me back.
That was how I left the little trading I engaged in to cater for myself and children. When he came, he took me to his place at Alapere in Ketu Mile 12, and we were living together. It was as if he was a changed man. Six months later I got pregnant for the twins. When I was four months gone, his attitude changed again.
……..AND THE BATTERING CONTINUES
He began to beat me. He got provoked at any slightest thing.
When I was seven months pregnant, he beat me, hit my head on the wooden bed and my protruding stomach on the floor. He tore the clothes I wore, chased me out with only pant. It was a neighbour that gave me wrapper to cover my nakedness. Our neighbours are living witnesses to all these beatings.
The constant beating led to complications to the extent that I had to deliver the twins through caesarean operation at Gbagada General Hospital. Yet, he could not raise money to pay for the hospital bills. It was my elder sister and her husband that loaned him money to pay for the hospital bills. Till date, he paid part of the loan and withheld the balance.
He harassed my mother who came to help me nurse my baby after I delivered the twins. She had to go because of how badly he treated her. Immediately my mother left, he increased the beating. While my babies were two weeks old, he kept demanding for sex even when he knew that I gave birth via caesarean session. When I refused, I received beating.
FIGHT FOR SURVIVIAL
When my babies were four months, because I didn’t want to be idle, I got a shop where I paid N15, 000 as rent for six months so that I could sew clothes. But each time we had misunderstanding, he would destroy my wares and lock my shop. At a point, neighbours in the compound became fed up with the entire situation and they kept advising me to leave before he kills me. Yet, I continued to stay because I felt my family rejected me, where do I go from there?
There was a time he abandoned the children and I for over a month without coming back home I had to hawk pure water at Mile 12 to be able to feed the three children. After a month, he came back again and continued from where he stopped. There was a particular Sunday he beat me up, used one of the twins Taiye to hit the wall. He tore my clothes.
REPORTS LODGED WITH WELFARE, POLICE
The next day Monday, I went to the Lagos state welfare office in Ikeja to report the case. They told me that they don’t treat cases that involve officers and their spouses because they hardly abide by the advice of the welfare. I cried, not knowing what to do, they told me to go to the police command and report to the provost.
I went to the Police Provost office and reported the case. He was invited alongside with my father. They did what they could to address the issue. They asked him to stop beating me, take care of his family and go to my father’s house and pay my dowry. When I got home that day, he invited his mother to come and take the children back to the village since I wanted the police to sack him. Her mother accused me of wanting the son to lose his job. I said no, all I wanted was for these unnecessary beatings to stop and that I didn’t want him to lose his job.
SEEKS DISOLUTION OFMARRIAGE
At this point we went back to the provost office and told them that I was no longer interested in the marriage. They asked him what he would be giving for the children’s monthly up keep. He said he would be giving N10, 000 monthly. To me, packing out was not the issue but where would I go with three children from there? My family refused to have anything to do with me because he kept threatening all of us openly that as a police officer, he would kill me and nothing would happen.
That he would only go to prison for a few years after killing me. I went back to the house only for him to chase me out with cutlass. I had to run to my mother’s house. Few days later, they brought the children to my father’s house but he chased them away. His mother took the children back to the camp in Akure. They lived with her for about seven months.
PRESSURE ON ME TO CONTINUE
Within this period, I began to work in Balogun market as a sales girl, to enable me rent a shop and I was recovering from the hell I passed through. I don’t know how but he traced me to where I was working and would always come there to beg for forgiveness. He said I should come back because the children were suffering and missing their mother.
When I refused, he would come there and make trouble. He would embarrass me, shout at the top of his voice, that I am his wife and that I abandoned three children for him. He began to blackmail me saying that my children were sick in the village and that I would be heartless to allow them die because of his attitude towards me.
He went about convincing my family and relatives that the children need their mother and that he wanted me back. Because of the shame, he left Ketu Mile 12 and rented a room and parlour ( self-contain apartment) at Gabriela Awolowo Street, Ijanikin and brought back the children from Akure early January this year.
BACK TO BASE WITH SAME OLD
I had no option than to go back. However, since we began to live in Ijaniki, he then stopped me from working. He seized my phone and said my family must not call me and I must not call them. The beating has continued.
He would insult and call my mother names each time we had misunderstanding. This is the woman that catered for him when he had accident and was in the hospital. I don’t want him to lose his job.
All I want is for him to take responsibility of catering for his children, stop beating me , stalking and constantly threatening my life. He also threatened to kill all the members of my family if I leave him. He said he has corked his gun and ready to kill any of my relatives that questions him about how he treats me.
He also threatened to disfigure me with acid so that no man would be attracted to me. Nigerians, please rescue me before he kills me if for nothing, but for the sake of my innocent children.”When contracted, on the phone, Sergeant Michael, husband of the victim Folashade, denied beating or threatening his wife. He told Vanguard that nothing like that happened. I am not aware and I have no knowledge of what you are talking about.