A 70-year-old widow, Mrs Maria Oko, of Amauzu Nkpoghoro in Afikpo North council area of Ebonyi State, who was recently banished from the community for allegedly having s*x with her 30-year-old boyfriend, Mr Okpanu Nwachi popularly known as Odoodo; a mechanic has given her account of the incident.
Her 19-year-old granddaughter, Uriaoma Abani, caught the woman while she was allegedly having s*x with the man in her matrimonial bed. The act, according to the residents, was sacrilegious in the community.
Maria’s granddaughter, Saturday Sun gathered, had been noticing nocturnal movements of the young man in her granny’s room every night. She was said to have laid ambush for the two lovebirds and on that fateful night, caught the duo smooching.
Displeased by that lewd scene, she was said to have immediately raised the alarm, which prompted the villagers to storm the widow’s home. Some of the villagers, who converged at the scene, it was gathered, invaded her room and dragged the two lovers out of the house and locked the man in their cell. The duo was paraded around the village the following morning with scornful songs as punishment for their act. She was subsequently banished from the community after the parade.
As expected, reactions trailed the incidence. While some commentators threw their weight behind her, citing human rights, some others passed a damning judgement on her based on religious and cultural reasons.
However, the widow at the centre of the storm has stepped forward to absolve herself of any wrongdoing. She explained that the man was just a family friend who assists her financially. When Saturday Sun visited her residence in Amauzu Nkpoghoro, which is about two hours drive from Abakaliki, the state capital, she was seen carrying out some home chores.
The light-skinned granny who was not straight with answers when asked to tell her stories, however, accused her granddaughter of being mischievous.
“I wouldn’t say whether I committed that crime or not. It is my bad granddaughter who caused this public embarrassment to me because if she did not report to the community, I wouldn’t have suffered this type of public disgrace.
“If she was a good granddaughter, the youths wouldn’t have rung the community bell which caused my disgrace; my granddaughter would have shielded me if she was a good child”, she said.
Maria, who trades on local gin told Saturday Sun that she was attending to her customer (the alleged lover boy) at about 11:30pm when her granddaughter ran into her room and started shouting that she was having sex with the young man.
“My cell phone light was on and if I was having intercourse with the man, I would have switched off the phone but the light was on. So, my granddaughter shouted and reported to her uncle that she saw a man having intercourse with me. From there, the matter was reported to the youths and to the entire community and I was sanctioned.
“I have no problem with my granddaughter as to warrant her to report me to the community that I was having s*x with a man. This is a year and three months I took her to my house to stay with me. She gave birth and I took her to my house to stay with me so as to take care of her and I didn’t know that doing so will cause me problem by monitoring me and every step I took.
“Ever since I adopted my granddaughter, her husband doesn’t care how we are faring. It is even the man they said had sex with me that is taking care of her; at times, the man will buy uncooked foods including rice and some noodles and gave her to cook for him.
“The man will just eat a little from the food and leave the rest for her. When my granddaughter’s baby was sick, it was the man who went into the bush and got herbs used in curing the baby”, she explained.
The septuagenarian, however, agreed that the young man often visited her in the night and sometimes stayed into the midnight. But she was quick to clarify that he only comes to buy alcoholic beverages.
“Yes, the man actually visits our house regularly. He stays till 12 midnight at times. That fateful Sunday they said he had sex with me, he came with his friend from Ozziza community and left at about 10:30pm after drinking some bottles of beer.
“The man later came back to buy local gin which I was selling him when my granddaughter barged into my room with her own cell phone light and shouted that I was having intercourse with the man and started asking the man what he was doing with me”, she added.
Goat as a fine
She told Saturday Sun that she had paid a fine of one goat imposed on her by the community. “I have actually offered the goat the community asked me to bring for what they said I did. I have to give the goat since it is what they said I should give according to tradition.”
What the culture says
A community leader, Elder Nwachi Oko, told Saturday Sun that “If a woman stays in her husband’s house and commits adultery, she must offer goat to our community as custom demands. Once she does this, the case will be over; nobody will touch her, nobody will blame her and nobody will pursue her.
“If she refuses to offer the goat, she will stay in pains and it will now be between her and the husband. It will be a case between her and the husband. If the woman continues, refusing to offer the goat to cleanse the land according to our custom, some elders of the community will be dying.
“The women folk will sing disgraceful songs and parade the woman round the community to tell her that she defiled the land by committing adultery in her husband’s home. The women will carry rubbish from wastes bins and heap on the woman’s house. The rubbish will block the entrance to the woman’s house and the house will be sealed with palm fronds.”
How the lover boy escaped punishment
The man caught with Maria was not punished. He was only sent out from the town as he was not an indigene of the community.
“According to tradition, nothing concerns the man. He is free. The punishment we gave him was that we sent him out of our community because he is not an indigene. If he was an indigene, he would have been fined a goat as well”, explained Agha Michael Chukwuemeka.
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