Even in death, Osinachi deserves justice. The husband deserves the justice of stating his case. Society deserves the justice of knowing what actually happened to her.
Until her death and the accompanying gory details, I was not familiar with the late Nigerian gospel singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu. Though in course of movements on the job, I had headed Group Life Desk in Daily Independent Newspapers, during which Entertainment was among the beats I supervised, I was not particularly good at fraternizing with artists.
But I considered Osinachi’s song, ‘Ekwueme’, a hit, not only for the rich lessons in the lyrics but for the tinge of masculinity in the voice. I saw in her, a younger version of, Onyeka Onwenu, the Elegant Stallion, who I admire extensively.
When therefore the news of her passage broke, it was totally unexpected. The immediate reaction was a feeling of loss, a prayer for the repose of her noble soul; a prayer for her family to bear the irreparable loss. I felt for the children, I felt for the husband – a fellow man who I pitied over the misfortune of being a widower at such a young stage in their marriage.
But when allegations began to swirl around the husband, Peter Nwachukwu, being responsible for her death, I was torn between pity for the poor woman that went down in violent death and anguish at the man for being fingered in her gruesome end. The confusion is yet to settle.
The ugly details of Osinachi’s death brought to mind the pathetic story of Hanifa Abubakar, the five-year-old child that was killed by the proprietor of her school, Abdulmalik Tanko, in Nassarawa Local Government Area of Kano State, in December last year.
Tanko abducted Hanifa on December 2 and took her to his house. He later contacted her family, demanding a ransom of N6 million. Despite collecting N100,000 as part of the ransom, he still went ahead to kill the innocent girl.
The beast of a man dismembered the little girl after killing her with rat poison he bought at N100 (some say, N10) and then buried her remains in a shallow grave on the school premises.
Next in the sordid recollection was that of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje, the 13-year-old victim of sexual violence who died on October 17, 2018. Ochanya was serially and brutally raped by her 54-year-old uncle, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Andrew Ogbuja and his son, for five years till she died of complications from Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF).
A particular strand of fate ran through them; they were victims of violence, one way or the other and died in the hands of men who were supposed to protect them.
An interview by the Vanguard Newspapers with Osinachi’s elder sister, Favour Made, aggravated the anger surrounding her death. Favor, pointedly accused Peter of being responsible for her sister’s death. She added that Osinachi died from a cluster of blood gathered in her chest due to the kick she received from her husband, recently.
She emphatically dismissed claims that Osinachi died of cancer, adding that she had always been a victim of abuse from her husband. Favor’s claims were chorused by the late musician’s close friends and associates who swore that her violent union may have led to her untimely death. They accused her husband of constantly molesting and beating her.
The accused, Mr. Nwachukwu, has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that his late wife had been ill since November last year. He said he first took her to Federal Medical Center (FMC), later to Gwagwalada General Hospital, and then to the National hospital, where she finally died.
An autopsy is said to have been conducted on the corpse to ascertain the real cause of Osinachi’s death. The report may confirm the allegation against Nwachukwu or exculpate him, at least, technically. The final decision lies with the courts if the matter gets to that stage. But no matter the outcome of the autopsy report and subsequent developments, Nwachukwu will never be the same again. He has already been condemned in the court of public opinion and will live with the stigma and accusation of blood in his hands.
That is the danger of violence or being associated with it. A man loses his worth and esteems the moment he raises his hands on a female. In the first instance, it is an encounter he comes out the loser, no matter the cause and how it ends. If a man wrestles a woman to the ground and pummels her, society regards him as a coward who can only unleash his energy on the weaker sex. If it turns out the other way, he is mocked as a weakling that cannot even stand a woman. Win or lose, a man that engages a woman in a fight carries the can.
Incidentally, some modern young men going into marriages these days do not seem to understand this. Just as their female counterparts, the men do not reckon with the cardinal principles of trust and tolerance as bedrocks of successful marriages. Some, devote more attention to their appearances and rehearsing dance steps for their wedding days, rather than taking time to study their spouses. Marriage has never been a bed of roses. It requires maturity and accommodation.
No stone should be left unturned in getting to the roots of Osinachi’s death. Even in death, she deserves justice. The husband deserves the justice of stating his case. Society deserves the justice of knowing what actually happened to her. It is only by that that her soul can rest in peace. Osinachi’s tragic end leaves some lessons behind.
The rigid insistence by religious organizations on the indissolubility of marriages, no matter the obvious differences among couples till one party drops dead, is no longer helpful, in the present circumstances. It is good that some Christian denominations are setting up Marriage Tribunals to determine the compatibility of couples to continue in their union when there are obvious signs of cracks amongst them. Others should follow suit.
The Osinachi story is a reflection of realities in many homes that are being papered over to avoid making the family name, a public issue. Some marriages are as good as Nazi Germany Concentration Camps, with the partners holding on for the simple reason of what the society may say in the event of separation or divorce.
Agreed, it is difficult for one who has enjoyed the fruits of rewarding marriage to sanction divorce. There is always the assumption that it will get better, with time. But then, the institution is for the living.
Rather than locking themselves in a ghoulish union in which one partner is stifled to death, it is better for the man and woman to stay apart and live. Time and events may bring them together, later.