Monday Philips Ekpe argues that people should not surrender their security to others
The story is sordid. Even though it is still legally within the realm of allegations, as the court is yet to pronounce its veracity, the graphic details of the horrible murder of Barrister Otike Odibi earlier this month in Lagos are heart-wrenching. His wife, Udeme Odibi, according to reports, killed her husband, tore open his bowel, severed his genitals from his groin and forced them into his palm. Thereafter, probably when the gravity of her actions dawned on her, she attempted to commit suicide. Their neighbours then promptly intervened to save her life and possibly enhance the chances of justice delivery. At the moment, the country and followers of this tragic, gory drama around the world are in shock, bewildered by yet another tale of a spouse snuffing life out of the partner.
Apart from birth, there is no other existential phenomenon as certain as death. Yet, the kind of passage witnessed in the Odibi family is unique mainly for its paradox. The home is meant to be a safety zone for its members, a place of refuge from the stress outside. For couples to truly actualise their marital expectations, they should be open to each other in many ways. For them also, the pledge, “to have and to hold”, is a requirement for emotional, social and intellectual bliss. That means a reasonable level of vulnerability becomes unavoidable. However, marriage, like the thought processes and actions of the persons in it, is not always straightforward. While shared or discovered information about bank statements, landed properties, contents of handsets and relationships draw some spouses closer, it can also tear others apart, sometimes fatally.
No research is needed to prove that domestic murders and deliberate injuries are gender-blind, so, no war of the sexes makes sense. It’s humanity that’s on trial here. Why should two human beings who promise to protect and love each other become mortal foes? Does the degeneration happen gradually or suddenly? Again, no two marriages are the same. It therefore means that for whatever purpose, even when some basic facts cut across matrimonial unions, each case should be viewed and handled differently. This often poses some challenges to marriage counselors, many of whom are usually armed only with lectures on forgiveness. As widely acceptable and indispensible as this virtue, its recommendation for and application to especially by partners who might already be irretrievably wounded in their souls could be tricky. There are numerous examples of couples who pronounce pardon publicly but still strike like a cobra soon afterwards.
No doubt, both spiritual and terrestrial spheres of life can be enhanced by understanding the kind of plea for forbearance made by Reverend John Adeyemo at Odibi’s funeral. As he put it, “We may be thinking of the circumstances that led to his death, but please leave everything to God. He is the owner of every individual. He takes any soul that he pleases. I want everyone here to know that death is inevitable. We thank God that our brother died in Christ. Therefore, I want to believe that it is only God that can take a soul. When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ all sing and shout the victory… Otike-Odibi’s family, I have just but one message: forgiveness! Our Lord Jesus taught us to forgive. He laid the heavy burden of forgiving others upon us with such a clause when he says, ‘for if you do not forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father won’t forgive your sins.’”
That admonition does not negate the lessons that should be learnt by the living. Odibi has left the scene in a gruesome manner. Going by most of the eulogies from his daughter, relatives, friends, colleagues and clients, he was an easy going man who could sacrifice anything to bring happiness to those around him, at his own personal discomfort many times. Unfortunately, his wife and suspected killer saw him otherwise. To her, he was a womaniser, someone who had no regard for his marital vow of chastity. Perhaps, the fate that befell the man’s manhood was a product of his assailant’s wild imagination about his perceived sexual recklessness. Now, he is gone. What made him stay put till he met his needless, bitter end? The very night he was slaughtered, he called his mother, sister and neighbour and informed them about the woman’s threat and apparently did nothing to shield himself from harm. He seemed to put his trust in third parties who were clearly not in a position to grasp the weight of his present danger. Was he naïve or unguarded like many others? I hope the late Odibi was not one of those people who over-estimate the opinions of others in taking critical, personal decisions. The earlier one realises the folly in always thinking of what people would say, the better. Human views are often characterised by selfishness, diversity, inconsistency, uninformed premises and sentimental conclusions. The way to go is to seek counsel, listen to and carefully consider advice but know that your security rests principally with you.
Time has come for individuals to reexamine the issue of “till death do us part.” Marriage is a noble institution but in the hierarchy of living, life itself takes priority. Divorce or separation should not be glamourised under any circumstance but the idea held by some people that the worst thing that can occur in matrimony is being rubbished regularly. While it is true that the Bible says that God hates it, there is nothing that indicates he prefers bloodshed. Nobody should consciously or carelessly walk into the grave for whatever reason.