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Ifeanyinwa: A case for GBV justice

When I saw the viral video of the lady that had been battered by her husband and saw the evidence of the battery so glaring…

When I saw the viral video of the lady that had been battered by her husband and saw the evidence of the battery so glaring on her face, my blood boiled. At a point in the video, the son walked into the shot and said “sorry Mummy”! My heart broke. I knew he would definitely risk jail if that woman was my sister.

Why would any man beat a woman, any woman, so viciously? The lady even made other allegations of what sounded dangerously like attempted murder against the husband. It was all too much. I however knew the police would not allow him get away with this. This was beyond a disagreement between a married couples. This was assault and battery. The law would take its course. I was sure of that.

To my consternation, I came across a news item this afternoon about the couple. It was not about the assailant been arrested. It wasn’t that he was on the run. No! It was that the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom (no less) had ‘intervened’ in the matter and had ‘settled’ the fight between the couple ‘amicably’. The husband had apologised and the wife had accepted the apology. All was well and they could go back home. There were plenty of pictures of the governor and his wife and the couple. There were a lot of other smiling people.

I have always had the suspicion that Governor Ortom has no clue about what governance and the rule of law mean. Like most other Nigerian politicians, everything is subject to their political whims. That is why the governor will grant a pardon to someone who has committed a crime without even allowing the legal process to go on. The ‘assailant’ in this matter is the Channels TV correspondent for Benue State, Pius Angbo. Naturally, he is well known to the governor. This is the reason the governor took it upon himself to subvert due process and aid in subverting the law with his pre-emptive pardon.

While I have absolutely nothing against the couple settling their matrimonial rift (to each his/her own), the matter at hand has gone beyond that. The issue of gender-based violence (GBV) is a big one that is currently ravaging the land. This ill-thought action of the governor does nothing in helping the efforts towards ending it.

By the way, would the governor have been so eager to intervene and stop the prosecution of the culprit if he had not been a friend and a media person who had the potential of paying the governor back in favourable coverage? Would his actions have been the same if she were his daughter? Any answer does not favour the governor. It is shameful.

Finally, I am not aware of the governor’s credentials as a marriage counselor and psychologist. If he has any, then, he must be quite poor in those disciplines if he imagines whatever he said to the couple behind closed doors will suddenly transform a perennial wife-batterer into something else. We have had enough examples of situations like this ending tragically. I hope for his sake, he does not end up with blood on his hands.

Wale Bakare writes from Lagos

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