Between 2022 and 2023, Nigeria has witnessed a distressing surge in spousal and relationship killings, shedding light on the deeply concerning issue of domestic violence and relationship disputes. These incidents reveal the grave consequences of unresolved conflicts within marital bonds. Cases ranged from instances of domestic violence to financial disputes, infidelity and misunderstandings, ultimately leading to fatal outcomes.
Data compiled by Daily Trust Saturday shows that domestic violence remains a recurring theme in society, with husbands and wives as both perpetrators and victims. In 2022, three cases of spousal killings were reported with domestic violence appearing as the underlying cause and the wives being the victims.
In the case of Oluranti Badejo and Folasade, Oluranti was accused of domestic violence against his wife, Folasade, which led to her death in Ogun State. Another case of domestic violence is highlighted in Lagos State, where Akpos is accused of taking his wife (Riskiat)’s life. Also, Rebecca Itakpe another victim of domestic violence, lost her life in the hands of her husband, Lawrence Itakpe.
In 2023, the number of spousal killings related to domestic violence doubled, spreading to other states in the country. In Benue State, Ternenge Igbaade was found guilty of murdering his wife, Kpadoo. In Gombe State, Babangida Baffa was accused of being violent with his wife which led to her death. However, Bauchi witnessed the first spousal killing where a male was the victim. Maimuna Suleiman was accused of killing her husband during a domestic quarrel.
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The trend continued in Jos, Plateau State, with Samson and Janet, where the husband was accused of killing his wife. In Abuja, Dr Ogechi Ezeagu was also a victim of spousal killings as she was murdered by her husband.
Financial conflicts also played a significant role in several spousal killings, demonstrating how monetary disputes could escalate to lethal levels. Such can be seen in the case of Kelechukwu Onuka who killed his wife Nnenna, in Ondo State in 2022. Reports stated that Nnnena was killed over the sum of N10 million which was deposited in her account. In Delta State, David Olori was accused of killing his wife, Mrs Ochogbo Olori, over N300,000 debt he was owed. Also, in Delta State in 2023, Ejowor Augustine reportedly killed his wife, Felicia Catibekpe, over a N55,000 debt.
Misunderstandings, as well as minor disputes over issues as trivial as a loaf of bread or dinner, led to devastating consequences. Perpetual Onyekachi reportedly killed her husband, Okoro Ndukwu, over a misunderstanding in Rivers State. In Ogun State, Segun Omotosho killed his wife, Olubukola Omotosho, over a disagreement on the choice of school for their kids.
There’s also the case of Ndubuisi Wilson and Ogochukwu Aneme in Anambra State where Mrs Aneme was killed over a loaf of bread. In Ibadan, Oyo State, Damilola Opeyemi was accused of murdering her husband Oluwashina over dinner. In Ondo State, Mrs Tayelolu Solomon was also accused of murdering her husband, Mr Felix Solomon, over a simple argument. Salami Anedu also killed his wife Esther Friday because she didn’t serve his meal after cooking.
In some cases, spousal killings also stem from the fact many couples do not regard their partners anymore or in other terms, have ‘fallen out of love’ with their respective partners.
In Ondo State, Fatima Abubakar who murdered her husband, Goni Abbah, noted that she hated the marriage. In Ekiti State, Mrs Adejoke Akinsulie was accused of conniving with her lover to murder her husband, Matthew Akinsulie. In Ogun State, Oluwole Okewola killed his wife after she caught him being unfaithful. In Edo State, Gabriel Ahuwa killed his wife over her refusal to indulge in sexual intercourse with him. In Adamawa State, Aminu Mahdi also reportedly killed his wife for denying him sex.
However, these killings in the past year are not only attributed to couples but also those in long-term relationships.
In Lagos State, Augusta Osedion and another lady (name withheld) were both murdered by their respective boyfriends. In a rant post on Instagram, Augusta’s boyfriend, Benjamin Best-Killaboi, said he had stabbed the victim in a heated argument while the boyfriend to the anonymous lady, Samuel Adeniyi, said he killed his girlfriend out of fear that she might leave him.
In Port Harcourt, Otuene Justina Nkang was mutilated by her boyfriend Collins. In Benin, Ogene Fediro was stabbed by her boyfriend and in Kaduna State, Kenneth killed his girlfriend, Agada Ebenezar, for jilting him.
The rising number of spousal killings in Nigeria between 2022 and 2023 underscores the importance of addressing domestic violence and disputes within marriage and relationships.
In a discussion with a marriage counsellor, Patricia Egbe, she said that an underlying cause which often leads to spousal killings is the lack of emotional intelligence from both parties. She stated that many couples have grown comfortable with not having conversations with their partners on issues that worry them. Rather, they discuss these issues with family and friends instead of their respective partners.
“A lot of couples, especially those from the new generation, lack emotional intelligence. Some have underlying anger issues, some have passed through some traumatic experiences such as rape, abuse from previous relationships, some come from broken homes which heightens their trust issues etc.
“Except one is truly healed from these things. It will take a lot for you to be emotionally intelligent and learn how to navigate your emotions in a relationship with your partner.”
Mrs Egbe also noted that although many believe that in relationships, “Communication is key.” However, she said that comprehension and understanding are also important in holding down the relationship fort.
She said, “Even when you learn how to communicate, how does your partner react to such information, are they angry? Are they jealous? How does that information affect them? Take for example, a woman decides to buy a property and she tells her husband. Is he the kind of husband that sees it as an offence? Is he the type that sees it as an investment for the family? Is he the type that will feel inferior over his wife’s ability to purchase a property?
“Communication is key but we need to be sure that whatever we communicate is understood properly. These little misunderstandings could build up anger, and anger makes people do regrettable things.”
Mrs Egbe noted that although conflict is normal in relationships, the two parties must learn how to resolve their conflicts before they spiral out of control. She also said that in a case where one is being overly difficult, their partner can then seek help either from family, spiritual leaders or professionals.
“Once you begin to experience too much conflict in your relationship, lack of affection, domestic abuse etc. Please seek the help of a marriage counsellor or a spiritual head if possible. If you notice your emotions are out of check, please endeavour to see a therapist. If it comes to a point where you don’t feel safe in the relationship or marriage anymore, there is no shame in wanting to opt out or get a divorce. A man or woman doesn’t wake up and decides to murder her partner. The signs will be there before the major strike,” Egbe said.
Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday, Pastor Aaron Kure also advised couples to seek counselling before and even during marriage. He said; “Most churches usually offer counselling to intending couples before they get married. However, I personally believe that it shouldn’t stop there. I believe married couples should seek counselling as often as they can, which will help reduce any tension or issues they might be experiencing at home.
“As pastors, we understand that issues will arise in the family, but what makes it harder to resolve these issues is being far away from God. Having a relationship with God and living in his word will give you the wisdom and knowledge you need to deal with some of the issues that come up before they go out of control entirely.”
Still on the religious angle, Imam Fuad who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday, noted that although marriage is sacred in Islam, human life is also sacred.
He said “The Quran speaks on how sacred both marriage and human life are. The two go hand in hand. The religion demands that you respect both the bond you share and the life of your partner. Issues are bound to come up in marriage but it shouldn’t reach the point where one is pushed to take the life of another.
“Any couple experiencing any form of abuse should speak up as it is not tolerated in the holy book. Speak to your family, your imams and others you may hold in high regards about these issues before they get out of hand.”
Imam Fuad also emphasised that to take a life is a great sin before Allah and therefore, one must avoid any temptation or situations that will bring them to commit such atrocity.
He said: “Whatever you have to do to make peace with your husband or wife, do it. Taking a life is a grave sin before Allah and once you commit it, there’s no going back. It leaves a mark on your life forever. So, whatever you have to do to avoid being pushed to the thought of killing another, please avoid it or find a way around it.”