The Pan African Women Forum For Grassroots Development has called on the human rights community, security operatives and well-meaning Nigerians to lend a hand of support for a young widow who has been sacked from her matrimonial home and her house destroyed.
The widow, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Okechi, a mother of five, from Orsu Ihitte Ukwa in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State is accusing her late husband’s brother of demolishing her apartment after the husband’s death.
According to her, her brother-in-law was said to have been angry that she was not willing to become his concubine, after his brother’s death.
She was made to believe that the brother in-law’s son who is currently out of the country, planned to build a house in her husband’s compound, hence the decision to bring down the house where Okechi lived with her husband.
Dr. Kalu Ijeoma Agbonma, global president of Pan African Women Forum For Grassroots Development, has been making a case for the widow. She spoke with TNN.
What is your connection with Mrs. Ifeyinwa Okechi?
Mrs. Ifeyinwa Okechi is one of our widow recipients anytime we are having widow’s outreach. So, Mrs. Okechi and Dr. Mrs. Maureen Onyediaka are co-wives, Maureen Onyediaka is a member of Pan African Women Forum For Grassroots Development; she is from Orsu Ihitte Ukwa, in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State, same place where Mrs. Ifeyinwa Okechi came from.
You are suing for justice over the destruction of Ifeyinwa late husband’s house, which his younger brother by name Simeon is been accused of. What exactly did you gather that prompted this move?
It was on a Friday, I saw Dr. Maureen’s missed call, then, I woke up Saturday to behold her messages, pictures of house destroyed, and a woman crying. I now called her to find out what happened, what she told me was so demoralizing; we had to visit the place, what we saw when we arrived was unimaginable.
What really happened?
Mrs. Ifeyinwa’s late husband was the owner of frontline pharmacy. When he died, she was asked her to go back to the village that she cannot stay in Benin. So Ifeyinwa came back to the village.
Ifeyinwa’s husband married the first woman, she gave birth to a child and the child died. He married the second one, the second one gave birth to one son and left the marriage, before the man married Ifeyinwa. Now, Ifeyinwa came back to the village and started selling her rice, she is a food vendor, we call them mama-put; there is a popular market in Orsu, if you go there and ask of Madam Ponk, they will tell you.
Ifeyinwa came back to the village, the brother in-law wants to concubine her, that’s the bone of contention, she has five children, a boy and four girls. She has been fending for them with her mama-put business, she takes care of them, with her aged mother, she sent them to school, initially he wanted to take her son and send her away but she refused, he has been doing all manner of things to this girl.
This compound where this house was demolished is Ifeyinwa husband’s compound, fenced and her husband is the first son of the family.
Why do you think the accused demolished the house, if he really did?
The first son of Ifeyinwa’s husband is about 18, 19 years; the boy doesn’t know anything. The in-law went and cajoled the boy, they now convinced the boy to allow Simeon’s son to come and build inside the compound, and Simeon has gotten his own inheritance, he does not live in that compound, ordinarily, in Igbo tradition, he has no business in that compound.
Speaking of Igbo tradition, did Mrs. Ifeyinwa go to the elders for help?
Yes, when she ran to the elders, they told the in-law not to send her away or scatter her house, that if that will happen he has to provide them with alternative accommodation.
The house they demolished is the one Ifeyinwa and her children are living in, since Ifeyinwa does not want to go, he had to demolish the house by force to make Ifeyinwa run away from that place. Even with the verdict that the village gave, he still went ahead and did this, the story is so disheartening.
What efforts has Pan African Women Forum For Grassroots Development made so far to ensure the justice they seek?
After recording everything, I moved the information to Her Excellency and our commissioner for women affairs. Ifeyinwa was taken to a two bedroom apartment, no foam, no kitchen utensils, no mat, no carpet, nothing, so as I am speaking to you, those five children have been suffering from fever, the mother is still in trauma, she can’t even communicate well.
I looked at this thing, I started doing the one I can do, since that day I tried to be feeding them by the grace of God, so we had to engage the press, so that we can call on well-meaning Nigerians to come to her aid. Instead of supporting the woman, they have been begging her not to take further step; that everything is okay, they resorted to intimidation.