Homicide detectives at the Criminal Investigations Department at the police headquarters in Yola, the state capital are struggling to cope with a high number of horrifying cases involving family members and intimate partners, Daily Trust on Sunday checks have revealed.
At least 42 stories involving different incidences of domestic violence in Adamawa State have been published in local and national media between November 2021 and Nov 2022.
The public always wakes up to the shocking news of attacks on spouses and close family members. From the news of a father crushing the heads of his two little children to death for not saying the right word during a family prayer session to that of a wife stabbing her husband to death, incidents of cruelty among members of the same family have been unusually rampant in Adamawa state.
The story of a 20-year-old housewife, Caroline Barka arrested for killing her 38-year-old husband brought to the fore the other side of the burning issue of domestic violence which usually involve female victims.
Caroline stabbed her husband, Barka Malgwa, a bricklayer and vigilante member in Madagali with a knife following a heated argument that resulted in a physical struggle between the couple.
According to her, Barka would return home late and drunk when the children were asleep, stumble on them and on slightest provocation threaten to deal with her. Despite the usual domestic conflict, Caroline never in her wildest imagination thought her relationship with Barka would end in tragedy.
Sitting in a detention room at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) wing of the Adamawa State Police Command in Yola, the capital city, 270 kilometres from her village was her nine-month-old baby, Alheri who has been sick and always crying from mosquito bites, Caroline held tight the pale looking infant in her arms.
Remorseful Caroline now realised she was not the only detainee as her nine-month-old baby, Alheri was also with her in the detention cell as thoughts of her older child, Emmanuel who is three years old also troubled her.
Answering a few questions from Daily Trust on Sunday, Caroline admitted to the offence for which she was being charged while expressing deep regret for her actions. She wished she had tolerated her husband that fateful night. If she had ignored him or thrown the knife away after seizing it from him, he would have been alive and she wouldn’t have been a murderer.
“I am here (in detention) because I fought with my husband and he died in the course of the fight. He was drunk. He returned one night and fell on top of our child and I was afraid he could injure the little child, so I challenged him.
“He then threatened me with a knife, holding it to my neck. I seized the knife and stabbed him in the rib. He rushed out to his uncle’s apartment, crying that he has been stabbed and they questioned him saying,’were you not threatening to cut your wife’s neck, what happened?’ He kept quiet. So his uncle did not know it was serious. He was later rushed to the hospital and died on the way”, she said.
In a remorseful tone, she said she spent time reflecting on the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident while the ghost of her husband haunted her in her dreams.
“I always cry and have nightmares and the baby is always crying from mosquito bites and is always sick here. My husband does come around in my dream and play with the children as he used to. I want to face the future with repentance. I want to live a quiet life with my children. I don’t want anything bad to happen to me again. I regret my action. It was not intentional. I know I made a mistake, yet I am appealing for mercy,” she said.
Barka’s family said they were not interested in pursuing the case against Caroline as they left the matter to God.
Similarly, on July 31, a 58-year-old housewife, Hajaratu Sini from Wunbirmi Tilli in Michika told journalists that she was arrested for killing her husband’s mistress after she caught her in bed with her husband of forty years.
Hajara said she tracked her husband to the house of the widow, Kwada whom he had been dating. After chasing him out of the lady’s room, the lady, Kwada joined in the fight thereby provoking her. She then picked a stick and hit her in the head, resulting in her eventual death.
Another gruesome case that happened August was one the police in August announced the arrest of a 25-year-old father, Elisha Tari for stoning his sons aged three and five years to death for disobeying him.
Mr Elisha Tari was apprehended on August 18 along the Cameroon border while escaping to the neighbouring country after the murdered children’s grandfather reported the crime at the police divisional office in the Michika area.
When interviewed by journalists, Tari said he used stones and a stick to crush the heads of his sons for disobeying his instruction during a family prayer session when he asked them to say “God” and they kept repeating “fire” instead.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the victims’ mother had separated from the abusive husband, two months earlier over a disagreement, leaving the children with their father.
That same month of August the then state Chief Judge, Justice Nathan Musa had sentenced a local wrestler from Guyuk area to death by hanging for the murder of his estranged wife.
The wrestler, Thank-You Grim had separated from his wife, Kwalla who already got a suitor and asked for divorce letter to enable her remarry. Grim invited her over to his house to collect the letter she had requested but on arrival, the story changed as Grim wanted her to return to him, a proposal she instantly rejected.
In the course of an argument, Kwalla allegedly insulted the wrestler who became enraged, threw her to the ground and used a pestle to hit her on the head until she died, sparking outrage in the village.
Police, Human rights activists worry
Police and human rights activists are worried about the escalating incidence of domestic violence as well as rape in Adamawa State as the Nigerian police experimenting an advocacy initiative with the hope of finding a solution to the problem.
The state Police Commissioner, Sikiru Akande recently pointed out to the alarming increase in cases of murder and other forms violence against family members as well as gender-based violence in the state, saying the police would embark on an advocacy campaign to sensitise the public on the need for domestic peace.
Disclosing his plans while parading dozens of suspects before the media, the police chief stressed the need for the state-wide sensitisation effort aimed at promoting peaceful resolution of domestic crisis to check the high rate of domestic violence, saying communities could play a vital role in settling disputes between spouses and avert incidences of domestic abuse.
A human rights activist and volunteer with Displaced Children Support Initiative, Comrade Adamu Babaji decried the prevalence of domestic violence in the state that is recovering from Boko Haram insurgency, he called on government and other stakeholders to invest adequately on economic empowerment, education as well as trauma counseling for victims.
He further urged religious and community leaders to preach domestic peace and enlighten their followers on ways to resolve domestic rows without taking the law into their hands.