Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the victim of domestic violence in the hands of her estranged husband, a banker, has cried out for justice and has garnered support from Project Alert Violence Against Women
It’s a case of love gone awry, so much so, the man in the relationship, Mr. John Edobor resorted to battering his estranged wife and mother of his three kids, Mrs. Ivie Edobor, thereby making her a per amber fixture in the hospital as she undergoes countless surgeries to put her life together again.
Married for nine years, the couple had however separated for two years, which notwithstanding, saw the man go to his estranged wife’s house to batter her, shattering her leg in the process. The accused, a staff of Zenith Bank Plc of Risk Management Department, had kicked the victim out of their matrimonial home in Ajah two years ago, alongside their three female kids.
Two years after her husband, a banker, kicked her from her house and later turned up to maim and batter her, Ivie Edobor, a mother of three, has cried out for justice after he was left out on bail without further recourse to her condition. Taking to her Facebook wall, she accused her estranged husband, John Edobor, of attacking her and battering her legs, while she was in the process of seeking for divorce.
Given the publicity the news garnered, some public spirited individuals, chief among them the Project Alert Violence Against Women (VAW), a non-governmental organisation targeted at fighting the menace of domestic violence against women, rallied round her and took up the case. Already, barely a week after she cried out, the case was taken back to court with four lawyers representing her from non-governmental organisations and on Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the matter was adjourned till November 10, 2016.
After fighting her battles alone without yielding result, she decided to share her problems to the world. Tagging the Project Alert Facebook wall for help, the mother of three wrote, “Dear friend, to shed more light on my ordeal, this is my story. Two years ago, my husband kicked me out of his house along with my three daughters aged nine, seven and four.
“I was forced to move back to my father’s house and struggled to provide for my three children as he completely neglected them and even took them off his medical insurance provided by his office Zenith Bank Plc. After much struggle, I finally got back on my feet. Got a great job, enrolled my kids in a new school and rented an apartment for my three kids and I.
“About Easter time this year he decides he was to be part of my children’s life again. I allowed him access to the children as I felt we could be civil to each other for the sake of our children. At this time, I had started putting my documentation together for the divorce process.”
Further breaking her story down when contacted by THISDAY she said, “I have been married legally to my husband John Okeikhan Edobor staff of Zenith Bank Plc, Risk Management Department Head Office for nine years though separated for the last two years. In 2014 to be precise, my husband of seven years then kicked me out of our matrimonial home. Why you would ask? I had been running a diaper and household consumables business. Importing the products myself and also buying from other dealers.
“The business thrived to the point where I felt it was okay to expand. I got loans from different people and finance houses to enable me run the business properly. Unfortunately, the business failed and I ran into big debts. On this premise, my husband of seven years John Edobor kicked me out of his house saying he would have nothing to do with me till all my debts were cleared. He threw my things out in the middle of the night with the help of his younger sister while my children cried especially my last daughter who was two years old at the time. For two days I slept in my car, hanging around hoping that he would change his mind and allow us work through it together.
“Instead he asked me to come and pick up my three daughters else he will send them to the village. I picked my three children with a few of their things and left his house. Luckily, his cousin (late now) and godfather to my last daughter who was also living in the Ajah environ took my children and I in for a few weeks.
“When my husband found out he quarreled with his cousin till my children and I were forced to move again. You might wonder why I remained in the Ajah environ; it was because my children attended school there and were in the process of writing exams. Secondly, my father’s house was on the mainland and would be difficult to keep up with school runs.
“I therefore decided with nowhere else to go, to lodge at a hotel with my three children close to their school. For three weeks, we stayed and went to school from the hotel till exams were over and I moved finally back to my father’s house. On getting back to my father’s house, we struggled to survive as the rest of my unsold goods remained in my husband’s house.
“After much pleadings, he asked me to come over and pick all my things, the goods inclusive. With the help of my father, I was able to get a truck to pick up all my goods but on getting there, my husband packed up every single item belonging to my children including their pictures hanging on the wall of the house and threw them at me telling me that he wanted nothing of ours in his house.
“He also informed me that we no longer existed to him that he would start a new family with a woman that would bear him a son since I had just daughters. He did move in with his lover, a divorcee with a daughter and even posted explicit pictures of them on his Facebook and WhatsApp wall to get to me.
I sold all the goods and all my jewelry including my wedding rings to pay off my debts and also provide for my children.
“God sent me a helper in my brother-in -law (my sister’s husband) who magnanimously assisted in clearing up my debts. For two terms my children and I will make the tedious journey from Orile Iganmu on the mainland, to Ajah for the children to attend school since their fees had been paid for the session. We would hit the road by 5am and make it to school before 7am. I would then allow the kids some time to sleep before tiding them up and sending them off to school.
“Then I will hang around till 2pm when I would pick them up and we will do the journey back to the mainland, there were times when my kids and I would get home by 9/10pm spending all the time in traffic trying to get home. Most times their homework will be done in the car. I remember asking him for the fees of my last baby as it had not been paid, but he insulted me, telling me that the kids were now my responsibility and I should sort the fees out myself. Again, I had to provide for my child without his help.
“We survived this time and when the session ended, I decided that the kids will no longer attend the school at Ajah instead I will get them a good school on the mainland so they didn’t have to journey to school and back. In all this time, my husband and his family never bothered about us or bothered to visit the children. I didn’t hear from my husband again apart from insults and abuses till September 2015 when the new session began.
“Apparently, my husband had expected me to ask him for the kids’ school fees. When I didn’t, he went to the children’s school in Ajah to ask for them but was informed that my children were no longer in the school as I had informed them that I was changing their school to one closer to us on the mainland. It was at this point John called me asking why my children were not in school that he had gone to pay their fees for the first term and was told my children are no longer at the school.
“I immediately informed him that I had gotten them a new school in Surulere to be precise and their fees for the session paid in full. I got a good job heading the Human Resources of a telecoms servicing company and life became better for my children and I. They went to school regularly, ate and played like normal children would. I ensured they lacked nothing. After two terms, about a year and some months after being kicked out of my matrimonial home, I rented an apartment in Surulere for my children and I so life could be a lot easier especially with their school being in Surulere.
“Just after Easter this year, just about the same time I moved into my own apartment with my children, my estranged husband went to my father’s house by 5am asking to see us. But before this time, he had been calling me and asking for us to settle our differences but I insisted that I had moved on but for the sake of our children I would be civil with him. I had even allowed him to start speaking with the kids on the phone but no contact.
“On getting to my father’s house, my father informed him that I was no longer staying at his house but that I had moved to my own place with my children and two house helps. After much persuasion and appealing I told him where I lived and after some time he came to the house and saw the kids after such a long time. I really did think he was genuine.
Although our marriage to me had ended especially as he had moved on with another woman I still agreed to be civil with him for the sake of our children.
“On one occasion I had allowed the kids stay with him for the weekend, my first daughter called me and was in tears on the phone to tell me that her father had called them and proceeded to interrogate them if a man stays in my house with me or comes to visit. He even went as far as asking my house help, who was with my kids to call him anytime a man is in my house so he can come there.
“When they came back home I challenged him on that and told him our marriage was over and that I would go ahead to process a legal separation.
He apologised for his actions and asked to be part of my children’s life and upbringing. As what I thought of as a sign of good fate, he paid their fees for the first term 2016/2017 session.
“On June 18, 2016, my father turned 72. My sister and I decided to throw him a small house party. We all went to my dad’s house and spent the day with him. I arrived back at my house with my children and house helps at about 7pm. I settled my kids at home.
“At about 8pm a friend of mine came to pick me up as we had a function to attend and I wasn’t willing to drive at night since the function would go on till late. We left the function at about 1am and arrived in front of my compound gate by 1.20am. Early hours of June 19th on my way back from a function, a friend had parked right in front of the gate of my apartment to press the bell for the gateman to open the gate and let me into the compound when suddenly he was rushed at and attacked by a man waving an object.
“The first impression was that it was an armed robber trying to rob us. My friend (a man) pushed him away but he came charging back; at this point I looked out the opened door and realised it was John Edobor my estranged husband. Before we could react a group of area boys showed up but rather than saving us from the assailant, they joined him.
“They proceeded to beat my friend to the ground giving John the opportunity to focus his attack on me. He used a metal bar (wheel spanner/metal rod) to try hitting me on the head through the opened drivers door but I shielded it. Not satisfied with that, he turned to the passenger’s door and dragged me out to the ground. I landed on the ground with my legs extended where he proceeded to hit me on the leg continuously with the metal.
“When he was satisfied he was about going back to join the area boys, who had gathered around my friend when my neighbour who had heard my screams for help and saw from his window a man striking someone on the ground. Thinking it was an armed robber, he jumped down from his balcony with a machete to save whoever was being attacked.
“On getting down he was faced with my estranged husband whom he had prevented from entering my compound without my permission on two occasions, so he recognised him. It was at that point he overpowered John. The area boys recognised him (my neighbour) as a member of the security team for the street and backed off my friend. He was searched and a dagger was also found on him.
“By that time I couldn’t stand up and my leg was bleeding profusely. I was rushed to the hospital where my jeans was torn off my leg to see the nature of my injury. The injury was so severe that my broken bone torn through my skin puncturing an artery in the process. I had even lost some of my nerves on my foot. At a point the doctors had contemplated cutting off the foot as gangrene had started forming on the toes. God being so good, the orthopedic surgeon decided to take a chance to perform the surgery on the leg even if the artery wasn’t completely healed.
“Almost three months and two surgeries later, I have titanium plates and screws to keep my leg in place and I am unable to use my right leg. I still have my three children to care for and my life is at a standstill. The perpetuator was charged to court and released on bail three days later. Now he moves around freely carrying on with his life. Now, is it wrong for me to cry for justice?”
“While in hospital, I gathered that John was arrested on the night of the attack and charged to court by the police the next day. He was granted bail and released three days later. Ironically, the day he was arrested, his family (mother and sisters) that I hadn’t seen or heard from since he sent me packing; arrived Lagos that same day. They saw him at the police station and proceeded to the hospital to see not necessarily concerned about my injuries but to ask me not to charge the case to court. While John was at the station he kept on sending threats and demeaning messages.
“Upon his release by the court, several times he tried to gain access to me at the hospital. By this time, my neighbor who saved my life that night had become a permanent fixture at the hospital protecting me from further attack by John. Why wait three months after the attack to speak up you might ask? While I was battling for my life in the hospital, I had considered my children and the stigma they may pass through if their father were to be thrown into jail and I decided to keep calm and focus on my health and my life. At this time my family (father in particular) and my husband’s family had been trying to mediate. Even to the point of trying to sweep the case under the carpet.
“All this time John continued to exhibit arrogance acting as if paying the hospital bill was a favour to me. I’m not talking about his further threats, lies and even insults from him and his siblings. Now three months and two surgeries after the deadly attack, I believe I had given John enough time to retrace his steps and my being quiet battling for my life was being perceived as weakness.
“As I write you now, my hospital bill is yet to be paid by the perpetuator. I have lost the use of my right leg though with physiotherapy and loads of follow ups the doctors are hopeful that I will walk again. I am unable to walk and thus unable to carry out my duties effectively at my place of work. I’m currently on compulsory sick leave till I can get back on my feet unfortunately this will take some time and I am not sure how long my employer will be able to wait for me to recover as my date of full recovery is yet to be known not even by the doctors.
“I reached out to his employers via phone text and even email (Zenith Bank Plc) and nothing was done.
My question now is, how do I provide for my three children my husband deserted two years ago and I have singlehandedly provided for as a single parent? How is it possible that the perpetuator of such a violent act moves around freely while my life is at a standstill. I want justice served please. I want my bills paid.
“My children provided for as in upkeep, fees and even the house rent now that I am unable to carry out my duties as a single parent and professional due to the injuries inflicted on me by John Edobor. I also want the immediate dissolution of our marriage with me having full custody of my children. And finally, I want him punished by the law for carrying out such a premeditated attacked on me.”
The Accused’s Plea
Although attempts to reach the accused person proved abortive, THISDAY however got some screenshots of his pleas to his estranged wife. In the message purportedly emanating from him on June 21, two days after he had beaten her up, he said “Ivie, losing my job is not everything to me. Whatever happens and the court decides to jail me will not be forever.
“So if after apologising for my mistake which was caused by Matthew, you decided not to forgive me, it’s okay. Life will continue. Well, I am still asking for your cool anyway. Your leg will heal and I am ready to foot the bill. But you know I did not cause it but it’s left for you to stop all these now and not jeopardise our lives.
“Ivie, please am sincerely sorry for the problem and Almighty God will heal you in Jesus name. Amen. Please forgive me.” However, from all indications, the bills he reneged on his promise to take care of the bills as they are yet unpaid till now. Meanwhile, she wrote to the bank officially on September 2, 2016 after she had contacted them on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, to complain about their staff.
The Medical Report
The medical report from Toki Medical Centre, Surulere, where she was rushed to after she was beaten, confirmed that she was rushed to the hospital on June 19. The report said she had a swollen limb which was bleeding from two punctured injury sites with crepitus on palpitation.
The report, which was signed by Dr. Egbuonu CF, the Medical Officer, stated that after a tentative diagnosis of fracture of the right tibia was made, a further evaluation showed a comminuted spiral fracture of the proximal third of the tibial shaft and a non- comminuted oblique fracture of the proximal quarter of the fibilar shaft.
“She is currently being worked up for an Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF) surgery once the wound heals and the inflammatory process reduced,” the report further read.
Medical Bills Pile Up
Already, the medical bills as seen and obtained by THISDAY stated that as at August 3, 2016, the payment to be made was at N3, 297,600. A further breakdown of the bill stated that N1.5million was for surgical management/anaesthesia/theatre fee, while physiotherapy (N7,000 x 20 sessions) gulped N140,000 and orthopaedic consultation was pegged at N30,000. The scotch cast (x2) was billed at N30,000, while the hospital professional fee was billed at N200, 000.
Also stated in the bill was the money for hospital admission (from June 19- August 12), which was pegged at N870,000, while that of investigation (laboratory) was pegged at N31, 500, and for the x-ray N40,000, while the CT Scan gulped N36, 100 and antibiotics also pegged at N420,000.
Project Alert Steps In
When she got wind of the incident, the Founder and Executive Director, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Project Alert on Violence Against Women (Project Alert VAW), as she was wont to do, she stepped in. Thus, Project Alert VAW went on a fact finding visit to Ivie Edobor sequel to her story of almost being killed by her estranged husband John Edobor of Zenith Bank.
On her Facebook wall she wrote the details of the visit. She said, “In the team were myself, Benjamin Ocholuje Odeh (Head Legal); Maymunah Garuba Kadiri (Psychiatric Doctor and Psychologist) who is an associate and Christy Dokubo Adelakun, a friend of the house.
“We met Ivie in her living room and there she told us her story. It’s very clear that her estranged husband went to her house with criminal intent. After being separated for two years (since 2014), during which time she moved back to her father’s house with her three daughters until April this year when she finally got a place of her own; why would he go and wait outside her house up until midnight if he didn’t have something up his sleeve?
“Why did he seat in a nearby bar to buy drinks for area boys while telling them that he stays abroad and rented the house for her and got information that men visit her? He got the sympathy of the area boys with the help of alcohol and they joined him in attacking Ivie and her friend.
“For the records, the house is rented and paid for by Ivie only. John had no business lurking around there. He had thrown her out of their matrimonial home in Ajah in 2014 along with their three daughters (maybe because she had no son). She moved on. He too moved on (or so she thought) as according to Ivie he now lives with a woman and even sent her some pictures. So why stalk her and attempt killing her?
“The case has been charged to court and Project Alert will be hold watching brief. We invite as many NGOs as possible to join us. Real Offiong, Kate Henshaw I will chat with you with regards to Ebun Olu Adegoroye. Apart from the criminal aspect, there is also the civil angle to look at. #justiceforIvieEdobor
Referring to Camille Johnson, who was shot and killed by estranged husband abroad, she said, “I am going to place this here for all those who with their warped minds dared to justify the attempted murder of Ivie Edobor by her estranged husband and father of her children. It makes me real sick when human beings think, talk and act like non – humans.
“When Ivie ‘s story broke on the social media two days ago, some very sick people said what was she doing out with a man at 11pm? How wicked and depraved can people be? Why wouldn’t she move on with her life? Why should she be imprisoned because she had a husband and now has children? Why can’t she have a life after the marriage and be in a relationship?
“Does that give the estranged husband the right to lay ambush for her and attack her to the point of almost killing her? If being in a relationship other than the one you signed the dotted lines, is an offence punishable with assault occasioning harm and attempted murder, honestly 95 per cent of Nigerian men will be maimed and killed by women. This madness must stop. When it is over, it is over. Move on. We are standing by her and supporting her in the fight for justice.”