Arowolo’s tragedy: Women speak

Penultimate Friday, Akolade Arowolo, a pastor who stabbed his banker wife to death, was sentenced to death by hanging by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos High Court. The incident, trial and subsequent judgment have continued to elicit various reactions from women. IKPO IGBINOBA interacted with some of them and reports

It happened on June 24, 2011. A pastor, Akolade Arowolo, with the Redeemed Christian Church of God stabbed his wife, Titilayo Arowolo, to death in his residence. Titilayo was a staff of Skye Bank. The
incident was a tragic climax to a two year old marriage which neighbours, family members and friends of the couple described as stormy.

Perhaps, the residents of Lagos contending with so many challenges of survival on a daily basis could have dismissed this incident as just another murder case involving an abuser husband and a hapless wife if not for the gory dimension of the murder.

The murderer plunged a knife into the heart, breast, chest, diaphragm of the late wife 76 times. Men sobbed like babies in the jam-packed courtroom on the day the pathologist, Prof. John Oladapo Obafunwa, gave evidence during the trial. Using visuals and slides, Prof. Obafunwa who is also the vice chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU) described in detail how the murderer accomplished his act.

After a brilliant presentation by the prosecuting team led by Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbesan, a director of Public Prosecution, it would have been a travesty of justice if the killer pastor did not get the death
verdict.  In a judgment that took the better part of three hours, Justice Lateefa Okunnu delivered the death verdict on February 21, 2014.

Though the judgment drew the curtain on the murder case penultimate Friday, the memory will linger for ages with women who keenly followed the case from the killing through the trial and the final verdict.
For them the scar left in their psyche by the incident will take a very long time to heal, if it ever would. A number of women who spoke with Blueprint said the incident would remain one nightmare that would
be difficult to forget.

A lecturer, Mrs. Mary Iheikhena Tyokase who followed the incident from the beginning, said the entire saga further revealed the danger Nigerian women were exposed to in the form of domestic violence.
According to her, “he story of the Arowolos is a story played out on a daily basis in several homes. Women are abused by their husbands and like Titilayo Arowolo who was killed, stoically endure the torture. It is sad that in the 21st century women are still treated like slaves are treated and are killed in some cases.”

She lauded Justice Lateefa Okunnu for convicting the killer husband. To put a stop to such killings, Mrs. Tyokase  advocated very stiff penalty for men who abuse their wives.
“Some men are real savages, but then the society protects them when they abuse their wives. If the late Titi had not died, but suffered some broken ribs, the husband could have been free from even arrest not to talk of prosecution.

“If the society doesn’t want to experience this kind of tragedy again, men who abuse their wives should be sent to prison for very long time before they wreak more havoc. It is the responsibility of the society
to protect women from these savages”, she emphasized.

Mrs Tyokase also had a word for women who are being abused: “They should cry out and seek help from relevant government agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations and if a solution is not forthcoming they should quit the relationship and save their lives”

A beads maker, Mrs. Abiola Okunola who was full of praise for Justice Okunnu for allowing the law to take its course said the killer pastor deserved the death penalty because he denied committing the crime until the last day.
“The murderer was not remorseful and even denied killing the wife in spite of the overwhelming evidence presented by the prosecution. He even lied against the late wife that she stabbed herself to death,” she said.

Beyond the death penalty, Mrs. Okunola said there were lessons to be learnt from the incident: “The first lesson is for ladies who want to get married. They need to be extremely careful and should carry out enough check on their would-be husbands. The second is for women who are being abused by their spouses. The earlier they get out of such relationships the better. Delay could be fatal as it turned out to be in Titi Arowolo’s case.

The third lesson is for the society which should protect women from violent men with tougher laws to check their excesses”.
A banker, Mrs. Joy Ewans admonished spouses to understand themselves thoroughly before becoming husband and wife otherwise there would be friction. According to her: “The problem in many relationships today is that strange bed fellows are living together as husband and wife.

Enough checks are not carried out by the two parties before they get married.
“To avert the sort of Titi Arowolo’s tragedy, men and women should be careful before entering a relationship which could end in marriage. They have to understand themselves before entering that contract”.
She added that it was very clear that the killer pastor and the wife didn’t know themselves thoroughly before their marriage.

A health worker, Ms. Rita Ikenna appealed to ladies to dump their violent spouses now before they get what she described as the Titi Arowolo treatment. Ms. Ikenna, drawing from her personal experience, said an abusive husband would never change.
She shared her personal experience thus: “I married a man who deceived me during courtship by exhibiting his very pleasant side. Barely six months into the marriage, the beast that he was emerged and he beat me one day that I almost lost my pregnancy.

“Our pastor intervened and he swore never to lift his finger against me again. I didn’t even tell my parents of the first beating. After I had my baby, he pounced on me again and I lost a tooth. I went to my parents and they came over to pack my things”.
Ms. Ikenna said she had lived since then as a single parent and enjoying it. “Today, I am very happy living alone with my daughter. I am now so scared of men that I don’t  think I will ever remarry.

“On the day the pastor killed his banker wife, my father was the first person to call me. He asked me to get the evening paper and read the news. After reading I went down on my knees to thank God that I left the beast I was married to when I did otherwise I could have ended up like the banker.”
Indeed, the Arowolos tragic story will haunt women for a very long time, especially those who are living with an abusive spouse and enduring the ordeal.

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