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Human Rights

Army General’s wife cries out “I’m serving a jail term in my husband’s house”

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Aisha Tijani

Aisha Tijani, wife of a General in the Nigerian Army now retired, has cried out for rescue, saying her life is a living hell following 13 years of slavery in the soldier’s house during which she has been confined to a back room in the Boy’s Quarters, made a prisoner in her matrimonial home as she is forbidden to leave the house, denied access to visitors, forced to eat leftover foods and reduced to penury as all her businesses, including a private school, have been forcibly shut down.

Once during these 13 years when she managed to sneak out of the house to attend the dedication ceremony for the baby of a close church member, her husband, Brigadier-General Saidu Aliyu Tijani stormed the church, pounced on her, raining blows and profanities to the
horror of the guests.

The 50-year old Aisha who spoke to SATELLITE TIMES during a secret interview arranged by a neighbour narrated her ordeal saying she married the Army Officer in 1987 and that she had four children for him after which her husband became a changed person. The beleaguered woman recounted amid tears:

“The whole problem started 2006 when I was running a school in Lagos. Then, my husband was out of the country for two years. One day during the long holidays, I took my children to Jos to spend the holidays and the head mistress of the school called me on phone saying I did wrong by closing down the school without informing her. I never closed the school. I later found out that my husband had shut the school and sold the building because he never wanted me to work or do business from the beginning”, Aisha lamented.

She also recalled gaining admission to study Mass Communication at the University of Jos, but after one year in the University, her husband stopped her. Again, she enrolled into College of Education Minna, but was pulled out by her husband.

“Finally, we moved to Jos since he has sold the house in Lagos, then my husband was posted from Jos to Abuja 2006. He stopped sending us feeding allowance after the first two months, then I started taking care of the children by myself but after four months, I couldn’t take it anymore, she expressed.

“In 2007, I gathered the children and drove down to Abuja to stay with him, but he was not happy because before we came, he kept on complaining of no accommodation in Abuja. Surprisingly for me and the children when we came to Asokoro where he was living, it was a huge house. He insisted that we must go back to Jos but I refused and that was when matter got out of hand”, Aisha narrated.

Aisha who said she was literally serving a prison terms in her matrimonial home for offences not known to her added she scavenged to eat on a daily basis while her husband shopped for his own food.

“Nine months after we moved to Abuja, he came one day and said he has gotten a house for us in Suleja, Zuma Barracks in Niger state; that I and the children should leave. We moved because staying with him was frustrating and unbearable. I used my Golf car to move our things three times from Asokoro to Suleja. I complained to him about the condition of the new house because there was no light nor water and he promised to come and fix things but never did”.

When we could not endure the hardship in Suleja, we decided to join him in Abuja but the next day, he gave us N20,000 and took us to the park to go back to Suleja and we complied.

“All these went on until 2013 when he bought the house we are currently living in. He shared the rooms between our son and daughters and said the room upstairs was his and that he was not sharing it with me. Then I started sleeping in the parlour but when my son travelled to school, I moved to the boys-quarter. He doesn’t talk to me nor give me money for food or medications when am sick”.

Mrs Tijani added that in 2015, she stumbled on his husband’s Will dated 2012 and that the Will had instructions for his brother on how to share his property among the children and his brother. She said she had been married to the General for 33 years and that their first child was 32 years, the second was married and living overseas, the third was 24 years old while the last was 20 years old and a student of Covenant University.

SATELLITE TIMES sought the reaction of Brigadier General Aliyu Tijani, (rtd) over the allegations. In a telephone conversation, he initially denied having problems with his wife.

“We don’t have any problems, she is idle. Let her leave if she wants to do so”, he said.

When prodded on the Will that excluded his wife, he held nothing back saying:

“She is the one who told her pastor that I am not her husband, that she has divorced me.

“She left the house; it was her father that even came to beg me to take her back. I am just tolerating her for the sake of God and our children”, he said.

Tijani further added: “if she wants to separate, the road is very easy because I married her under Islamic law, so it’s just for her to pack away. In Islam, there is no complication in separation, you only need to say the word, ‘you are divorced, you are divorced, you are divorced; once you mention it, you are divorced’.

If I drive her to out of my house, there is no where she will go to stay, therefore I am sympathising with her because of God and the children.

Asked whether he could assist his wife in some way to stand on her feet, the General claimed he had been training their children all alone. “I have been feeding her all along, whenever I set up something for her, she will eat the money, she has not contributed kobo to the family. What kind of assistance”? he queried.

Zigi Tijani, the couple’s 24-year old son corroborated his mother’s story, saying there was nothing much the children could do to change the situation at home. He admitted his father acted like he was doing their mother a favour by letting her stay in the house, adding that he feared the worst for his mum now that the story would be out in the media.

This story was published under SATELLITE TIMES human rights investigation series

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Human Rights

9-year old girl severely burnt by Kogi Scholarship Board’s boss

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A nine-year-old girl, working as a child labourer in the home of the Executive Secretary of the Kogi State Scholarship Board, is now living with a deformed foot following a near-death experience in the hands of her Madam who pinned her feet to a hot barbecue stone until the child wailed and passed out. By the time the young girl came to, the soles of her feet were burnt with one badly so she would need a plastic surgery.

Mrs Rebecca Acheneje Omacho, the Executive Secretary, of Kogi Scholarship Board is currently facing trial at the Family High Court, Lokoja, Kogi State, for “ill-treatment of a child and causing grievous body harm”.

A neighbour who would not want her name disclosed, told SATELLITE TIMES that the maid, Favour Makola, then 9 years old had, “…her foot forced onto a hot stone and held down until the sole of her foot peeled off. The neighbour immediately called the Police who rescued, and rushed the girl to Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Lokoja for treatment.”

The case file sighted by this newspaper showed that at age 9, Makola “was already working as a labourer, cleaning the house and preparing meals for the household. She was subjected to daily mental and physical torture by Omacho, her aunt, making her lose the smartness and intelligence that started manifesting in her early childhood. She was also deprived the opportunity of going to school.”

SATELLITE TIMES gathered that little Makola planned to escape but each time her plots were thwarted by her guardian who as a routine kept her like a prisoner, locking her in before departing for work each day. But determined to break the no-to-school rule, the little girl on a certain day scaled the fence of the house and went to school. Thereafter the boss of the scholarship board became furious and unleashed physical violence on her, for flouting her rule.

 

Arrested in 2017 for child abuse, Mrs Omacho subsequently had her appointment as Executive Secretary of the Kogi State Scholarship Board terminated.

Speaking on the incident, Oluwakemi Omeiza Usman, the legal counsel for the State enthused: “Yes, her appointment was terminated because of the incident. The case is still ongoing until justice is done. The suspect is on bail but comes to court for sittings”.

Favour has since been re-united with her parents while her condition is being monitored by the State Welfare Department.

The case has earned Kogi, one of the few States that has domesticated the Child Right Act, applause from human rights activists and civil society organisations. However, the Kogi State Coordinator, Action Aid Project, Kehinde Orowosegbe observed that incidents of rape of minor and child abuse in the state are on the increase.

“There are numerous cases of rape being reported daily. In several cases, the parents of the victims will go to the police station to beg that the case be settled out of court because of family ties and stigma” observed Orowosegbe.

This story was published under SATELLITE TIMES human rights investigation series

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Human Rights

CSO, lawyer protest sentence for rapist

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Rape victim used to illustrate story
Rape victim used to illustrate story [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Raphael Odeh, 28, convicted on October 10, 2015 for abduction and serial rape of 14-year-old Susan Abu may soon return to court if a civil society organisation, CSO and a legal practitioner have their way.

The judge, Hajia Sa’adatu Sambo of Magistrate Court 5, Minna, Niger State sentenced the accused to two years for sexual inter-course with a minor in violation of section 275 of the penal code.

He was further fined N20,000 for abduction. Odeh abducted his victim, held her hostage for two weeks, during which he repeatedly raped her, the court was told.

However, a human rights advocate and a legal practitioner are up in arms against the judgment which they describe as being ‘too lenient’. In recent times, “we have seen jail terms given to persons accused of rape as not being commensurate with the gravity of the offense committed”, they maintain.

In her protest, Dorothy Nuhu-Aken Ova, Director, International Centre for Reproduction Health and Sexual Right (INCRESE) told SATELLITE TIMES that stricter penalty must be slammed on persons convicted of rape because of the lifelong dehumanizing impact on victims.

Oluwakemi Omeiza-Usman, a lawyer and special human right prosecutor posits that “Raping a minor carries a life-long sentence under the Child Rights Act, 2003, while rape of an adult carries 14-year jail term under the penal code.

Nuhu-Aken Ova explained bitterly that the Sharia law which operates in Niger State cannot allow the Child Rights Act to be domesticated in the State. “They still believe in child marriages and polygamy”, she lamented.

She further revealed that rape was considered sports in some communities. “Could you believe that during interviews in one of our sensitization programme in Minna, some of the boys believe that rape and harassment of girls is a sport. That they can compete over girls and play with rape and harassment the way boys play ball around.

They said it was when they came to INCRESE’s sensitisation programmes that they realised that rape is a severe offence.’

Nuhu-Aken Ova argued that light sentence is incapable of serving as a deterrent for the grievous act of rape, adding that even the 1999 Constitution frowns at rape.

Odeh may have been convicted, sentenced and even served his 2-year prison sentence, INCRESE says it is embarking on a campaign for a review of the penal code on rape and human rights related abuses.

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Human Rights

Soldier butchers 16-year-old boy inside Edo forest

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The victim, Divine Aigbogun lying helpless in a hospital bed
The victim, Divine Aigbogun lying helpless in a hospital bed

A soldier of the 195 Battalion, Nigerian Army Agenegbode, Private Nwali Eugene yesterday returned home licking the blood of his victim whom he left to die in the bush in Ubiaja, Edo State.

A passer-by identified as Endurance found the almost lifeless body of Divine Aigbogun and rushed him to Divine Wisdom Hospital, Ubiaja where he is currently lying helpless, struggling between life and death.

Divine is a 16-year-old SS2 student of St. Francis College, Ubiaja, Edo State.

The butchered hand of the victim, Divine Aigbogun

The butchered hand of the victim, Divine Aigbogun

A legal Practitioner, Okoh Sheriff disclosed to SATELLITE TIMES that the soldier who attempted to murder the young man is presently detained at the Ubiaja Division of the Nigeria Police Force, Edo State.

He also said that he has briefed the Provost Marshall of the Nigerian Army, Edo State, General Ahmed Husssein.

According to Sheriff, the Army has directed one Major Adebisi A and Major Shekarau of the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army to begin immediate investigation into the matter.

Speaking exclusively with SATELLITE TIMES over the telephone, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ubiaja Division of the Nigerian Police Force, Olubayo Ajao confirmed the incident and said the culprit is in Police custody.

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