A 75-year mother of eight children, Mrs Lucy Okojie, has raised the alarm over her husband’s plan to make her homeless by selling the house she built in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.
She narrated her ordeal to newsmen in Benin City, on how Prince Albert Okojie, a catholic Knight in St Paul’s Cathedral Benin-City sold her properties and now threatens her life for refusing to give up the house she lives in Benin-City.
“He has sold three of my houses in Uromi and Benin. My question to Albert Okojie is, where does he want me to live with my grandchildren? Where does he expect my children to visit me?
According to Mrs Lucy Okojie who is now looking distressed and older than her age, she was 13 years when she was married to her husband, was circumcised in family house in Uromi, before she started giving birth to her children at 15. “I was the youngest of three wives, we all lived together in Uromi, I gave birth to six children before we moved to Benin-City.
In her words, “The problem started when two of her children were diagnosed with sickle cell disease, my husband resented the fact that they were sicklers, and became verbally and physically abusive. I was left with the responsibility of taking care of them after he was completely absent from their lives, when he left his first wife and had moved in with his present wife, where he currently resides in G.R.A, Benin-City.
“Both of my daughters were constantly in and out of hospitals because of the frequent sickle cell crisis and infections, that required weekly blood transfusions and hospitalizations. Unknown to me, it was during this period, that my husband was busy selling my properties and the one at Uromi.
She disclosed that she started the business with a restaurant in Uromi from 1967, adding that, “ I was a distributor to Sadia fish, Bendel Brewery, Guinness, Pepsi Cola, and Coca-cola; as well as being a distributor at Okpella salt and Okpella cement. I had a permit to slaughter cows at the abattoir in Oredo as well as being a distributor at Okpella salt and Okpella cement. I was able to raise money to build these houses because I was industrious and I worked hard when I was much younger.”
She further noted not only did her late father, who was a forest ranger help to secure the piece of land, measuring 200 by 100 on which the property he wants to sell was built, but he also advised her to give the money to her husband for the procurement of the land and building of both houses. “They were two twin buildings, I built with the same pattern for two of our sons, in GRA,” she added.
“I had trusted my husband so much then to the extent that all my documents, including my baptismal certificate from St. Anthony Catholic Church, my modern school certificate, present-day, primary six certificate and all the documents of the buildings I built and my children’s certificates are all with him.
“I never imagined anything like this will happen after having eight children for him. Our goal was to build eight houses for each of my children, but I could only build four. At the time he was a building contractor, he was involved in the building of houses, I trusted him, I allowed him to use his company, called Bettytony Construction as a sponsor for everything.”
“After he sold the house at Uromi, I reported the matter to the HRH Anslem Edonojie, the Onojie of Uromi that my husband sold my house to IKD, but he lied that he built it not knowing that he changed the document of the house to his name. I swore before the king and my God that his one kobo is not in the house.”
“All I have laboured for, including houses I built have been sold by my husband, who has vouched to sell the only house I have left. He has told people, he has the influence and money to render me homeless, but I have since put my fate in the hands of God and Justice.”
“On numerous occasions, Albert Okojie has sent people to destroy the gate in my house and brought police officers to arrest my relatives who live with me. He even went as far as telling the DPO to detain and arrest my daughter and me, when we reported at the police station in G.R.A, claiming he did not know us, but thank God his plans did not work”.
“I am appealing to all Nigerians to ask Prince Albert Okojie this: Where does he want me to go at 75 with my health situation? The oppression and harassment are becoming unbearable, not only has he sold my properties but has also, claimed ownership of my houses because the original documents are in his custody.”
“The Oba of Benin tried to intervene, but he refused to listen to reason. Our children tried to make Albert Okojie see reason, but he refused, instead he became defiant and vindictive because he was asked to kneel down before the Oba when he was summoned to the palace.”
“Like a knight in St Paul Cathedral and a man, who graces the first morning mass daily, is treating neighbours with dignity and compassion, not the doctrine that Jesus Christ admonishes in the bible?
“I decided to come out because my story could help other women who may be going through a similar situation to put an end to the discrimination, harassment, violence and oppression. I cannot see or hear properly anymore, despite the surgeries done, due to years of physical abuse.” She lamented.
“If Prince Albert Okojie knew he was incapable of running a polygamous home, he should not have married more than one wife. At 75 with two grandchildren living with me, where does my husband want me to go?”
“I am calling on all women Non-Governmental Organizations, men who are against women discrimination, the government, and the youths to please listen to my cry which represents the agony of many voiceless women who are also, undergoing untold pain.
“Today, I am living with a permanent damaged in one of my ears, and eye from years of physical abuse.” She added.