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Osinachi: Wake up call to govt, advocates

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The death of Gospel Singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, allegedly from domestic violence complications has continued to generate controversies in many quarters, even as some have questioned the effectiveness of advocacy by government and non-governmental organisations against gender based violence, ENE OSHABA reports.

Following the death of Gospel Singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, and subsequent arrest of her husband, Peter Nwachukwu, over allegations of domestic violence leading to the singer’s death, the reactions have continued to build up.

The late Osinachi was a lead singer at the Dunamis International Gospel Centre and was featured in several popular gospel songs including Ekwueme by Prosper; Nara Ekele by Pastor Paul Enenche and You no dey use me play by Emma.

This is as the incident has put to test advocacy by government and groups against domestic violence which is a crime under the Violence Against Persons Prohibition VAPP Act (2015).

The Act aims to “prohibit all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.

“The Act provides general protections against offenses including infliction of physical injury, coercion, offensive conduct, willfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, willfully making false statements against another person, damage to property with intent to cause distress, and deprivation of personal liberty.

“The Act also provides protections against offenses that affect women disproportionately, including a prohibition of female genital mutilation; forceful ejection from home; forced financial dependence or economic abuse; forced isolation; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; harmful widowhood practices; and spousal battery, among others.”

It is on this note that stakeholders and women rights activists are pouring out their hearts in lamentations as violence continues to rise amidst policies to checkmate the crime across the country.

Conspiracy of silence

Advocacy against domestic violence by various stakeholders has emphasised the need for victims to always speak out and get help, this expectedly would make prosecution of culprits easier. However, most cases of domestic and gender based violence go unreported, just as reported cases, sadly, never get swift justice.

Reports making rounds indicate that the victim, Osinachi, didn’t want report of spousal abuse she was experiencing out in public. She reportedly always pleaded that no one should report to the authorities including her church.

However, following her death one of her colleagues, Frank Edwards, publicly accused the singer’s husband of regularly brutalising and being the cause of her death.

Also, speaking on behalf of the deceased’s family in an interview with a national newspaper, Osinachi’s older sister, Favour Made, alleged that her sister’s husband was responsible for her death.

Made said her sister’s death was as a result of cluster of blood in chest following her husband allegedly kicking her on the chest recently, and not cancer-related.

“She did not die of cancer. Instead, the husband, Mr Peter Nwachukwu, hit her with his leg on the chest. He has been beating her all this while, but my sister hides all that she was passing through from us.

“Before now, we have told her to come out of the marriage, and we told her that they are not divorcing and that it’s just a separation. But, she felt that God is against divorce.

“We told her that separation is not a sin but just for her to stay alive and take care of her children. She will always tell us to relax and that the man will change. So when the man kicked her in the chest, she fell, and he took her to the hospital, but he did not even tell us.”

Dunamis Church reacts

After the death of the singer videos of her singing in church with the Senior Pastor, Dunamis Church, Dr. Paul Enenche, started trending like never before with people blaming the church for not helping her out of her abusive marriage.

In a video titled: “What I know about Osinachi’s Death” Enenche explained: “About three months ago the late singer, in company of her husband, met him to complain about her health condition and he prayed for them, adding that when the illness continued he advised them on proper medical care in other for her to be well again.

“Two and a half months ago Osinachi and her husband met me in my office and she complained of respiratory ailment, I prayed for her but when she didn’t get well I called Dr. Osang, the Head of Medical at the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi, Nasarawa state, and he carried out scan but the results was not encouraging and he advised they go for further investigation at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) or at the National Hospital Abuja.

“I further called Dr. Ako Alexander of the UATH who further examined her and said there was the need for further investigation and the National Hospital was recommended.

“I called Dr. Ibrahim at the National Hospital and further scan was done and the picture results was milder than what the previous CT scan showed. Her oxygen level was 100% and we were happy.”

The senior pastor, who was in Camaroun for a crusade when report got to him that the singer had given up the ghost said he was not told she died from domestic violence.

“If there was domestic violence that happened there is no way I would know because I was in Camaroun. We began to hear strange stories everywhere that she has been suffering from domestic violence.

“I called her twin sister and she said she knew that Osinachi had been suffering domestic violence but she would always beg her not to tell pastor that the man will change.

“Upon my return we visited the family and I asked the son who would always run to me after service for prayers why he didn’t tell me and the boy told so many other stories and said their father would always ask them what pastor said after church so they couldn’t open up.

“I asked choir members and they said she would always go on her knees begging that no one tells pastor. Even her music producer visited me in my office and told me that he witnessed Osinachi’s husband slap her in his studio and I asked why he, as a man, will watch another man do that to a woman. He said before he could respond, Osinachi begged him to leave him that he would change.

“All these we got to know after her passing and it’s unfortunate because we have zero tolerance for violence. There is a principle and policy we always preach that it is better to leave the marriage alive than to die because of marriage,” he stated.

Women minister wades in

The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, while fielding questions from journalists, Thursday in Abuja, at the world press conference on the landmark judgement on 35% Affirmative Action for women, vowed to ensure that Osinachi got justice.

She disclosed that she was collaborating with relevant agencies to ensure justice was served in the case.

She regretted that the late singer endured the magnitude of domestic violence until her death, and appealed to women to always speak out to get necessary help.

The minister also charged neighbours to report abuses anytime it happens stating: “I will ensure that the animal face the wrath of the law. We are mourning her, she suffered so much pain, humiliation and beating in the hands of this animal till death and we don’t hope to see such ever again.

“We appeal to women to always speak out, neighbours should always intervene but we learnt that the animal put pressure to control all even her family couldn’t visit her. It is so heartbreaking and sad that so many other women live in abusive marriages and are afraid to leave for fear of divorce. I am following up this case to ensure that Osinachi gets justice.”

Tallen had led a delegation on a condolence visit to the artiste’s home in ACO Estate, along the Airport Road, Abuja, where she had private session with the children and her findings further compelled her to demand for justice for the late ‘Ekwueme’ crooner.

Speaking further on the incident, the minister said, “I spoke to each of the children privately and each of them beginning from the eldest son to the last child a girl who is just seven years old and they all revealed horrible stories of domestic violence.

“My findings compelled me to make the demands for justice for her, and protection for the children for the things they disclosed to me.

“There is no smoke without fire! I have confidence in the police and the judiciary to ensure justice for the late singer; and I also demand that the children should be offered special protection; those are what the Nigerian women, whom I stand to represent, are demanding of this situation.”

Experts proffer solution

The Abiodun Essiet Initiative for Girls, an NGO, has condemned the increasing violence against women, lamenting that the death of the gospel singer was a terrible one to bear just as she noted the strategic role religious and cultural leaders play in the society.

The Executive Director, Abiodun Essiet said, “We need to intensify our awareness campaign on sex and gender based violence to religious organisations. We live in a very religious and cultural society. Last Sunday, the Sunday school lesson at redeem was around family finance. Is it important to have a joint account or not because some of these issues are what lead to sexual and gender based violence.

“My organisation is engaging the traditional ruler and we trained no fewer than 40 traditional rulers in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja, on combating sexual and gender-based violence in their domain. The training was to create more awareness at the grassroots on the spate of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and its consequences.”

Speaking further she said, “Strengthening the capacity of traditional rulers to combat all forms of violence, especially those against women and girls is paramount in curbing the act.

“We need to create more awareness about SGBV in religious and cultural societies in our communities because religion and cultures are part of the things that still shape our lives in Africa. We are highly influenced by them.”

Religious leaders should get involved

Similarly, another gender advocate, Zainab Mohammed, said the gospel singer’s death was one too many in recent times. She called on mothers to have conversations with their daughters before they get into marriage.

“Mothers should ensure this conversation happens with their girl child from an early stage any form of abuse is unacceptable. Our religious leaders should be having this conversation. Leave to live.

“An abusive person needs mental health support. You don’t physically abuse your spouse and think it is okay. Please any woman in an abusive relationship should seek help,” she urged.