Some suspects who allegedly banished a widow from the Umunankwo community in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State have been arrested and arraigned before the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Magistrates’ Court in Awka, the state capital. AnambraPeople reports.
The suspects and defendants identified as Lazarus Uzor, Anozie Uzor and Valentine Okwuosa, a brother to the widow, hailed from Umunankwo and were said to have used a masquerade to force a widow, Nneka Uzor, out of the community some few weeks ago.
They were arraigned on a five counts on Monday.
Their arrest was facilitated by the state Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo, in collaboration with the state police command last week.
When the charges were read and interpreted to the defendants, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The Chief Magistrate, Genevieve Osakwe, thereafter granted them bail in the sum of N700,000.
The 53-year-old widow, a caterer and a mother of two was banished from her community by her brothers and other relations over an allegation that she was a witch.
The video of her banishment recently went viral on social media and thereby attracted the state commissioner.
Narrating her ordeal in the office of the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare in Awka, on Monday, Uzor explained that she started living in her parents’ house in Umunankwo nine years ago after her husband’s death and she has since been met with all kinds of abuse by her brothers and other family members.
She said, “This particular issue started when someone died in our neighbourhood and like other members of the community, I was invited to the burial which made me sleep over at our family compound, but I was surprised to be called upon around 5.30am the next morning by my uncle and brothers with masquerades.
“I got dressed and was accompanied by everyone in attendance alongside the masquerade and was marched out of the community with my brothers and other relations warning me never to step foot in Umunankwo again.”
Reacting, the commissioner expressed satisfaction with the decision of the court and promised to get justice for the widow and all Anambra widows going through such ill-treatment.
She further warned residents to desist from any form of harmful traditional practices against widows in the state as such would not be tolerated, stating that the government of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo had zero tolerance for such inhumane acts.