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Era of deceitful marriage in Adamawa

His secret weapon is a can of spray-on starch to make his expensive garments shiny and crisp, one more ingredient in an elaborate ritual to…

His secret weapon is a can of spray-on starch to make his expensive garments shiny and crisp, one more ingredient in an elaborate ritual to win the heart of even the hardest woman and fool the canniest future father-in-law.

When he tells his targets that he is really a poor man, their voices tinkle with delightful laughter at the presumed joke. Speaking jokingly to Weekly Trust, he said “It’s all about deception. I don’t have to tell lies verbally, but I tell a silent lie by the way I dress.”

El-Habuske, 34, is by all ramifications a master of the fraudulent wedding known as “Auren Yau dara” or “Tegal feure”, which is now raising alarm in Adamawa and its environs. So masterful is he in fact that he now offers his services to others to help fool daughters of the very rich into opening their hearts and family purses. Mothers have been weeping at the ruin he’s creating.

He sees it as a thrilling battle game. According to him, he has married four different women, two of whom separated from him for being “too strict.” In his words: “This kind of thing is like a business; when you get into it, you are likely to hit the jackpot. A rich family can take you in and set you up in business.” He talks about another secret weapon that helps him to attract unwary brides: “I have the look of someone who’s docile and stupid. A woman wants to marry someone who will not boss her around and who will comfort her.”

More than 50 per cent of households in Adamawa State are said to be poor, while unemployment keeps increasing though the present administration in the state says it will reduce the problem. According to investigations by a group of concerned youths known as “Youth For Better Adamawa” led by one Alhaji Sali Sarkin Yakin Tola, the state has a very high rate of divorce, many initiated by deceived brides shocked by the penury of their lying grooms.

Young men like Habuske who are on the prowl rent expensive watches, fanciful clothes, imported shoes and hats. Some tongue-tied suitors even hire actors to do the talking for them. They borrow or hire good cars and pretend they have jobs, university degrees and their own houses only to ensnare their chosen woman in the one-room hovels after the wedding.

“There’s much unemployment. These young men want to get married and traditionally, parents would not give their daughters to anyone who’s jobless,” said Zakiyyatu Babayola of JAWAR EN, a Yola-based non-governmental group with about 2,000 divorced female members. Weekly Trust was told by Sarkin Yakin Tola that victims are not always women of means. Often, poor women are deceived by their own dreams of a rich groom only to be returned to the street to beg for their spouses and, inevitably, their children.

Not regretful, El-Habuske advises fellow Lotharios to conceal their poverty until it is too late for the family to do anything. Hear him: “You should try as hard as possible to consummate the marriage and make her pregnant and the parents will have two options – either to set you up in business so you will be able to take care of their daughter since you love her or they may dissolve the marriage and take their daughter and grandchild back. It’s a very difficult choice for them to make.”

He reveals why young men engage in this act. “Let me be frank with you, most parents in Yola are materialistic. I remember a friend of mine wanted to get married, but can you imagine that the first question he was asked is: “hatoi o huwata, ha bankina or kostom on?” meaning “Where is he working? Is he a banker or senior Customs officer?” This has been the bane of our society, so don’t blame us”, he said.

Gathered that last January, another young man named Dan Kano who sells brocade and supplies clothing materials to rich customers in Yola, fell for a girl named Bilkisu, a computer graduate from a wealthy Yola family. Beside expensive clothes, Dan Kano borrowed fancy cars by relying on another friend who works in an auto shop besides Fallujah market in Jimeta.

Weekly Trust was told that Dan Kano spent N2,000 to bribe a security guard at the uncompleted mansion that belongs to a former government minister. In return, the guard behaved as if he knew Dan Kano when he posed as the owner and gave Bilkisu and her family a tour of the mansion. As usual, before weddings can be finalised, families must meet and agree to the marriage. Fortunately or unfortunately, Dan Kano’s real parents who are threadbare rural folks were not in the picture. So the pair bribed several female traders who they had picked up in town and who were adorned with gold earrings and bangles to pose as close relatives. After a successful meeting, the date for the wedding was set.

After just one month of marriage, Dan Kano’s cover was blown off by a customer who happened to be a family friend of Bilkisu. “Bilkisu’s mother simply burst into tears,” said the source.

While regretting that most of the victims are female, an area court judge blames parents for being lured and deceived by materialism. He noted that with great concern and lack of proper investigation into the couple’s home background, history and antecedents are also responsible. He cited the case of Indo (whose real name is Aisha). The story of Indo is similar to that of Bilkisu who was deceived by Dan Kano’s splash of perfume and a can of spray-on starch. Indo is now seeking divorce after realising her mistake of not getting the right suitor.

Investigations have revealed that in many of the state area courts in Adamawa, divorce cases are higher than other civil cases. Irked by this problem, a group of concerned youths, ‘Youth for Better Adamawa’ staged a massive campaign against the menace of late/fraudulent marriages and the quest for material gains alleged to have been exhibited by some greedy parents. The group’s coordinator, Sarkin Yakin Tola, told Weekly Trust, “Marriage is the source of the family and the family is the building block of societies in the world. It is also the backbone of socio-economic and political developments.

“Its progress and maintenance signifies harmony, while crisis and divorce always signals danger and insecurity in the society. Therefore, disruption in the family system that leads to a number of social problems such as juvenile delinquency, prostitution by young ladies, drug abuse by youths the and high rate of divorce cannot be tolerated.”

“The menace is today the leading social problem in the state as a number of divorcees’ associations have increased in Yola,” he said.

Many factors including illiteracy and poverty are attributed to the rampant cases of fraudulent weddings and divorces in the state. These issues are eliciting debate between men and women with each group accusing the other. Mallama Rashida Husseini, a broadcaster in Yola, attributed the problem to “nonchalant attitudes” by some greedy parents who turn their daughters into commodities for making money through the men who ask for their hands in marriage. And even after the marriage, the sons-in-law are not spared.

According to Rashida, fraudulent marriages in Adamawa seem to have become a culture that can destroy the moral fabric of the community. She, therefore, called for a holistic and pragmatic effort by all to restore the lost glory by curtailing the menace. While disagreeing with the notion that poverty is responsible, the broadcaster maintained that ignorance, greed and lack of home training are the major factors contributing to the menace.

“Looking back, parents used to give out their daughters in marriage after intensive investigations been conducted on the family background of intending grooms to avoid falling into wrong hands,” she said. She concluded thus: “The truth is that there are social, religious, economic and political factors involved, because men always accuse the women of not knowing how to please them in the manner they relate to the men or in the food they cook, while women accuse men of betrayal and refusing to shoulder family responsibilities.”

Some Islamic scholars linked divorce with disobedience of rules in Islamic marriage. Renowned Islamic scholar, Malam Mu’azu Gombe, said acting contrary to the Islamic teachings tends to deprive the marriage of God’s blessings. He as the coordinator of Ahlul-Bayt Muslim Community in the state was emphatic, saying, “The main cause of breakups of marriage today is the influence of westernisation. There is also the influence of movies – the Hausa movies and others. The films have made the youths to start building marriage life on illusions,” he said.