Light overcomes darkness


•Ebonyi widow banished over son’s offence returns home 4 months after

From Wilson Okereke, Afikpo

If bizarre happenings in Ebonyi State are anything to go by, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Felicia Nwamkpuma, has a Herculean task ahead tackling obnoxious practices against women.



Only recently, a widow, Mrs Monica Nweke, was reportedly ostracised after her house was burnt by aggrieved youths of Ogboji autonomous community in Ezza North Local Government. Her offence was that her son was allegedly involved in the death of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in the area during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.

Following the development, some angry youths stormed their compound. When they did not see their target, they descended on the family house, set it ablaze and banished the widow and her children from the community. The widow was punished for an offence she knew nothing about.

However, respite came her way on July 20, 2023, through the efforts of the Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA). The distraught woman and her family were returned to their home at Igboji.

State FIDA vice chairperson and its head of litigation unit, Mrs. Sarah Chukwu said their attention was drawn to the problem around May by a whistle blower who said the woman’s house was burnt down between 1:30 and 2:00 am. The victim and her family members were in the sleeping in the house.

She said the woman escaped death by divine providence: “After the woman and two other persons had run into a nearby bush for safety, they saw clearly the people who went into the compound, poured fuel on the building before setting it ablaze.

“The woman could not talk when we met her for the first time in respect to the matter because the shock was still in her. It was her daughter, Victoria, who provided FIDA with the information that some people came to their compound and after she had sensed danger, the girl quickly woke her mother from sleep and all of them ran away.

“The perpetrators had the intention to kill. They combed round the neighbourhood in search of the Nwekes mainly to throw them inside the fire. But as God would have it, FIDA with the mandate to promote, preserve and protect the rights of women and children especially the vulnerable ones, waded into the matter to ensure that justice was done.

“We took up the case to ensure that justice is done. We cannot hear the story and fold our arms and watch. Some of the perpetrators were arrested by the police while some ran away. After our meeting with the former Commissioner of Police, FIDA equally met with all the parties including the elders of Ogboji.

“During the gatherings, we gave the condition that the destroyed house would be rebuilt and all the valuables therein including her storage of palm oil will be paid for. The people agreed and signed an undertaking that they would finish other things on or before October 30, 2023.”

She was upbeat that the people would put everything in place in accordance with the agreement. She advised the elders of the community to keep watch over the family to ensure that nothing untoward happened to them again. She warned that FIDA would not take it lightly should anything happen in the contrary.

FIDA’s litigation secretary, Mrs. Onyedikachi Chi-Ewa, regretted that some youths of Igboji community decided to eliminate Mrs Nweke and her other family members as revenge over an incident they knew nothing about:

“This is why the youths took decision during their meeting and shortly after attacked the woman whose son was fingered undermining the fact that the case was already with the police.

“The people took laws into their hands simply because they could not get their target, during their first attack. They broke the windows of the house, the victim was humiliated and dragged to the main road. In their third visit, the woman’s house was burnt. She escaped through the back door of the building.

“Some of the assailants who were not satisfied with their action later left for the woman’s elder sister’s place, Mrs Anyigor Nwachi, in the same village in search of her. Having been disappointed, they also extended the same humiliation on the old woman (Mrs Nwachi) over her inability to produce her sibling to be killed.”

Chi-Ewa condemned the attitude of the elders of the area over their alleged unconcerned behaviour during the attack. She appealed for their partnership with other organisations and agencies to re-orientate the young ones to desist from crimes:

“The day the arrested persons were supposed to be released, their people organised a party to welcome the assailants. But the particular day that the victim was brought home by FIDA officials, she was deserted by all. But we will ensure that justice is done because this is not the end of the case.”

A sympathizer from Ezzagu in neighbouring Ishielu LG, Samuel Obasi, said he developed interest in the matter to enable peace return in the community: “The settlement has cost me a lot including enough resources and time. I am happy that my effort has yielded an impressive result.

“I did not stop at that. I went further and appealed to many stakeholders to keep to the agreement mostly the undertakings in order to enjoy permanent peace in the area.”

A stakeholder, Mr Cletus Nwezza, said the problem did not come from the elderly ones. He advised both the affected family and the community to bury the hatchet for the sake of peace and unity: “The woman is my sister in-law.

“I am one of the signatories in the undertaking. I am assuring you that there won’t be any other problem in the area. I also am appealing to the youths not to attempt a similar trouble in the community anymore.”

The reverend in charge of St. Emmanuel’s Anglican Church where the victim worships, John Udo, thanked all for the mature manner the issue was resolved amicably.

The woman, who was accompanied home by armed policemen and members of FIDA, was provided with some household assets including water tank and mattresses.