By EGHOSA ADEZI
Sunday, November 19 2017, the
wind was gushing and its screams were like that of a wailing banshee, the harmattan season had only just begun, with the temperature below 15 degrees census in the federal capital territory. At about 9 to 10pm that night, tension started to build between Bilyaminu and his wife, Maryam at their 4 Pakali Close, Wuse 2 Abuja residence, the couple who got married some 12 years ago blessed with a beautiful Eight Months old daughter sparked into arguments of extra marital issues that morning after Maryam allegedly found a nude photo on her hubby’s phone.
Why there seem to be conflicting arguments on what happened that night, no one can conclude on what transpired. Did Maryam Sanda kill Bilyaminu? Did Bilyaminu trip and fell on a shisha pot? Can a shisha pot imprint multiple stab wounds on a full grown man? These were warring questions pondering on my mind when writing this piece.
While the police is yet to fully brief the public on their investigative findings, in a matter already in court and has been through several sittings, the world is still in the dark on the events that unfolded that faithful day.
Although, there seem to be several reports from different sources on the issue, but the account made by Ibrahim Muhammed seemed to be the most accurate information yet, as he claimed to have witnessed the genesis that led to Bilyaminu’s murder.
At a recent court sitting, Muhammed said he had earlier prevented Sanda from stabbing her husband with a broken bottle when the argument initially ensued.
“We were together watching TV and taking shisha in their sitting room up till 8pm on the very day Bilyaminu died,”Muhammed told the court.”
“He went upstairs and didn’t return on time. I started hearing noise. Later on, Sadiya came downstairs to tell me that Maryam will like to see me.
“I climbed up and saw both of them holding each other’s clothes. Maryam told me she wanted a divorce and that I should help her tell the husband.
According to the eyewitness (Muhammed), Maryam refused to leave her husband, insisting that he must agree to the divorce.
He said “I used my hand to remove her hand from the husband’s clothes but the fight continued”.
He also said that there was a groundnut bottle in the room and that Maryam broke it and attempted to stab her husband but he (Muhammed) prevented it.
Muhammed finally said he was unable to settle the couple’s quarrel, adding that he had to call some of their relatives.
“Usman Aliyu, advised me to leave the house that it was not right to be too involved in a quarrel between husband and wife.
“Later on, one Abba-Bello, a brother to Bilyaminu, called me and told me to come to Maitama Hospital that Bilyaminu had died”, Muhammed ended his testimony.
Muhammed who seems to be the only person presumed to give an accurate imagery on what might have gone wrong, it is quite important that some necessary angles be explored.
First, Muhammed made mention of himself and the late Bilyaminu was taking shisha (tobacco) in the sitting room, before he (Bilyaminu) went upstairs. The statement vividly might have pointed out a clearer image on the events that night.
The Police biggest strength in getting a conviction against Maryam lies in the fact on them proving that she (Maryam) attacked her husband with the knowledge that her act was likely to cause his death, in a nutshell premeditated.
But the deceased friend, Muhammed said in court that they were taking tobacco at the time, making most persons wonder if the couple were drug addicts.
We can’t run from the fact that highest rate of drug abuse in Nigeria can be found in the northern part of the country, especially with the recent BBC’s documentary on Codeine abuse.
So this actually raise the question, Could Maryam Sanda might have been ‘high’ on something? Could it have been tobacco, marijuana or cocaine? We never know.
The success of Maryam lawyers proving that she might have been under the influence of a substance could as well take the case to a different direction.
But it will seem that in the album of Nigeria’s killer wives, Maryam Sanda does not single alone.
A Delta State High court sitting in Effurun recently sentenced a woman to death for killing her husband.
Mrs. Mary Attah was found by the court culpable to murder of her husband, Pastor Darlington Attah on July 6th 2012.
It was discovered that the couple were having a nice time, but were infuriated by a telephone call, which prompted Mrs. Attah to rush to the kitchen, collected the murder weapon, a knife and pepper, which she rubbed on her husband’s face to immobilize him, before stabbing him in the neck.
Not satisfied, she dosed the bleeding husband with fuel and set him ablaze. It was learnt that he later gave up the ghost at the Warri central hospital.
Pathetic stories of wives murdering their husbands has risen in recent times, with issues of infidelity the most common reason for a killer wife actions, with the story of an Ibadan based lawyer, Yewande Oyediran who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on November 27, 2017 by an Oyo State High Court in Ibadan for stabbing her husband to death.
At the time, many thought the judgment would scare other women from indulging in similar acts. But they were wrong. Since then, a number of wives have killed their husbands.
Yewande, an assistant director in the Oyo State Ministry of Justice, was alleged to have stabbed her husband, Lowo Oyediran, a France based businessman, to death during a domestic scuffle. She reportedly knifed her husband to death on February 2, 2016, at their 30 Adeniyi Layout Abidi-Odan, Akobo, Ibadan home.
On April 26 2017, a 45-year-old father of six, Babatunde Eso, escaped death by the whiskers in Lagos. He was allegedly bathed with a pot of boiling pepper by his wife over what the man called a little disagreement.
It was gathered that Eso suffered severe burns to his head, face, chest, nose and mouth. He has been unable to speak and is having difficulties in breathing, up to the time of putting this report together. He has remained on admission at the hospital since then, fighting for his life.
The victim had narrated to his sister what transpired between him and his wife before his condition deteriorated. His sister earlier stated that her brother was attacked after the man jokingly informed his wife that the person calling her on the phone was her boyfriend.
It was gathered that the woman burst into uncontrollable rage, which led to a heated argument between the two.
However the most tragic incident, which brought considerable shock on the faces of millions of Nigeria, happened on May 3, 2018, when a lawyer identified as Udeme allegedly stabbed her husband, Otike Odibi, to death. She also reportedly severed the husband’s manhood and placed it in his right hand. The incident happened at about 7.30am at Diamond Estate, Sangotedo, Lagos.
The deceased, Odibi, also a lawyer, was said to have been married to his alleged killer, Udeme, for three years.
The police public relations officer, Chike Oti, said the Divisional Police Officer, Ogombo, Ajah, Lagos, received a distress call that Odibi had been murdered in his home by his wife.
“Based on the information, the DPO mobilized a team of detectives to the scene, where they found the man lying on the bed in a pool of his own blood, with his stomach ripped open exposing the intestine. As if that was not enough, the killer severed his genitals and placed it in his right hand.
“However, before the arrival of the police, Mrs. Udeme was said to have unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide after it dawned on her that her spouse was dead. But she was rushed to the hospital for treatment by neighbors.
“Further information from a neighbor revealed that the deceased called him on phone in the night before he was murdered, complaining that the wife was threatening to kill him with a knife. The said neighbor, however, warned him to be careful. The deceased also called his mother and his younger sister complaining of a threat to his life that fateful night,” he said.
A few months before the Bilyaminu and Maryam saga, Mrs. Folashade Idoko, an auxiliary nurse, was arrested by the police for stabbing her husband, 32-year-old Lawrence Idoko, to death at their home in Ayetoro, Oto-Awori Local Council Development Area of Lagos. The suspect allegedly accused her husband of infidelity.
It appears that, these days, many women seem to have discovered the panacea to the long years of suffering in the hands of abusive and philandering spouses. They are increasingly converting their kitchen knives and other weapons of destruction in their homes to their personal use.
On why women kill their husbands these days, especially in a relationship in which there was no previous evidence of domestic violence, Celine Njoku, a guidance and counseling psychologist with Education District V, Lagos State Ministry of Education, said it was sometimes due to jealousy and quest to protect their love from intruders.
“When a woman starts feeling insecure, she thinks she is at the risk of losing her partner to someone else. Court documents refer to it as jealous rage or morbid jealousy. That is often the cause of the murders. In some cases of prior abuse, it makes the perpetrator lash out with lethal violence. There is an element of madness, hopelessness, frustration and emotional trauma.
“Love can equally make a woman kill her husband when her spouse is suffering from a chronic physical illness and she can no longer watch him in pain. She could poison him,” Njoku said.
Also commenting on the issue, a consultant psychiatrist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, and senior lecturer, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Yewande Oshodi, decried the spate of physical violence being perpetrated by the womenfolk, saying that it has become a worrisome trend.
She said the drift in the killing spree might suggest a huge amount of unresolved frustration among couples with little options or outlets for seeking or receiving support.
“People must be able to ask for help and also deploy appropriate coping skills to handle life’s frustrations and stresses. Murder or suicide is never a solution. A case in which a person chooses to kill a spouse and kill herself is suggestive of a person who has decided to act in a maladaptive or criminal manner of addressing her problems. Such a person or couple should seek help and benefit from couple or individual counseling early before things deteriorate”, Oshodi added.
The view of both professionals on the reasons for the emergence of killer wives carries a strong account. Although because of its trend now, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a long time coming. This is the view of West Kadmiel, Executive Director of Impact Africa.
Kadmiel believes that high rate of domestic abuse of men who have turned their wives into punching bags has not helped the emergence of the trend. He explained that most women in abusive relationship are dying in silence, scared and battling with depression. He also added that these women wear a big smile in public in a bid to tell the world all is well, but are desperately in need of a savior.
“These women are desperately in need of help. Not all of them kill their husbands because of infidelity, in fact research has showed that women are far more able and experienced to handle a cheating spouse than men. 80% of men in marriage are engaging in infidelity, have they all been killed? It is when the patience of the woman is taken too far, that is when problem arises.
“Most men have very little respect for their wives. The insult them in public, not knowing that such attitude kills the woman’s self esteem. Some men beat their wives at least three times a week, it is that bad. Now when the woman who has been dying in silence, she finally voice out in the most unfortunate manner, the worldcastigates her. I believe that most killer wives murders are premeditated, but I also believe it is suicide too, because when you continuously torture a woman for years, be ready to contain her response.
“So there need to be awareness on these issues of domestic violence, infidelity and the rest. It shouldn’t be seen as a part of life, these are sacred vows made at the alter or where the marriage was held, been broken and we think there are no consequences? It’s really sad. NGO’s, CSO’s, Media everyone needs to speak up”, he said.
There seem not to be a near end of the trend currently turning a menace, as more news headlines like ‘Love gone sour’ ‘Wife turn killer’ ‘Husband killer’ ‘Female assassin’ keeps rocking various pages of newspapers and our TV screens.
Eghosa Adezi is a Communications Strategist and also the Assistant Secretary of Sports writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Edo State chapter. He writes from Benin City.