A group of Women Rights Activists has staged a peaceful protest to condemn what it called an “unwholesome” widowhood practice of forcing a widow to drink the water used in washing the deceased corpse at a community in Atani, Ọgbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The women gathered in their large numbers, at the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court Awka, Anambra State capital on Thursday.
They were seen holding placards with bold inscriptions, such as, “Stop violence against women and girls in Anambra State”, “Ọgbaru men and women, allow our widows some peace”, Stop all obnoxious laws and harmful widowhood practices in Anambra State”, among other inscriptions.
The group was reacting to a recent event that happened at Atani community in Ogbaru LGA, where a widow, Mrs Patricia Eligbue, was rescued from her late husband’s relatives after forcing her to drink the water used in bathing the corpse of her late husband’s nephew.
Speaking to journalists during the protest, the Chairperson of Violence Against Persons Prohibition, in Anambra State, Miss Hope Okoye, said, “This peaceful demonstration is only a way to make the women’s voices heard, as well as, a clarion call on the Ọgbaru communities to review the existing obnoxious traditions and expunge all forms of harmful practices against women and widows in the areas.
“All well-meaning indigenes of Ọgbaru and indeed, Anambra State, both at home and in the diaspora, should lend their voices in speaking against every form of ill treatments against women and widows, not only in Ọgbaru communities, but also in all parts of the state.”
She urged the Anambra State Government, through the state’s Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court, to protect women and widows in the state; and ensure that justice is served on perpetrators of unpalatable windowhood practices against women and widows, irrespective of their social status.
Meanwhile, one of the suspects, Albert Eligbue, a native of Atani in Ọgbaru LGA, who forced a widow, Patricia Eligbue, to drink water used in washing the deceased husband’s corpse was arraigned on a five-count charge, before the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court, Awka.
When the charges were read and interpreted to the defendant, Albert Eligbue, a brother-in-law to the widow; pleaded not guilty of the charges.
However, the presiding Chief Magistrate, His Worship Genevieve Osakwe stated that, since the offence was a bailable offence, the Court would consider bail applicantion for the defendant.
The defendant, Albert Eligbue was granted bail in the sum of N500,000 and, that he must provide a reliable surety, in the like sum, who must be the traditional ruler of Atani, the Onowu or the President-General of Atani community, with two recent passport photographs, and a valid means of identification, among other requirements.
The defendant was remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Awka, and case adjourned further to June 7, 2023, for hearing.