A 75-year-old man, Albert Eligbue, who allegedly forced a widow, Patricia Eligbue, to drink water used to bathe the corpse of her husband’s nephew was arraigned in the Children, Sexual and Gender- Based Violence Court in Awka, Anambra state capital on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.
During court proceedings, the prosecutor, Inspector Onyema Ayogu told the court that the defendant was accused of forcing his sister-in-law who is also a widow to drink water used to wash the corpse of her late brother-in-law as proof of her innocence over his death.
Ayogu said the defendant was facing five charges, including conspiracy to commit felony and assault, an offence punishable under sections 495(a) and 190 of the Criminal Code Cap 36 Vol. 11 revised laws of Anambra State of Nigeria, 1991.
Eligbue who hails from Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state, pleaded not guilty to the five charges preferred against him.
However, Magistrate Genevieve Osakwe, granted the defendant N500,000 bail with a surety to be the Traditional Ruler or President General of Atani community.
The case was further adjourned till June 7, 2023.
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Meanwhile, the widow who narrated her ordeal to the Anambra State Women and Social Welfare Commissioner, Hon Ify Obinabo, said she lost her husband a long time ago.
She noted that although she’s from Obe Agwa, her husband was from Atani both in Ogbaru local government area of the state.
She went on to say that after her husband’s death, she has been subjected to all kinds of abuse ranging from her husband’s family, calling her a witch and other kinds of physical abuse.
According to her, one day the husband’s siblings badged in on her and her only child and allegedly started beating her, claiming that she’s responsible for all the unfortunate things happening to them.
She said that it was after the incident that her relatives ran to her aid . While she was about to go with her family, her husband’s family members refused stating that she needed to stay till after the burial ceremony of the husband’s nephew who died.
The widow explained that on the day of the burial, she was summoned inside the room where they kept the dead body by one Mr. Albert, Godwin, Ozoemina and Onyeàmà.
She said that they placed a cutlass on the deceased body and asked her to walk over it four times of which she did before they washed off the corpse and forced her to drink the water before pouring the remaining on her.
The widow stated that they also accused her of killing the deceased.
Reacting to the incident, Hon Obinabo noted that although the alleged culprits have been arrested, she will make sure that the law takes its full course.
The Commissioner went further to warn everyone to desist from any form of harmful traditional practices against widows in the state as such would not be tolerated.
Upon investigation by newsmen, it was discovered that the deceased died after a brief illness at his sister’s house somewhere around Ozubulu.
It was also discovered that the incident started as a result of a dream of the sister-in-law where she claimed that she saw Mrs. Patricia strangling the deceased.