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By Chinwemdu Nnadozie / Minna
Malama Azzatu Adamu, who was once married to Bida celebrated polygamist, Mallam Mohammed Bello Massaba, has a sore tale on her relationship with her ex-husband.
Her case, to some, could pass as that of domestic violence against women. But to her, what had transpired between her and Masaba recently, was a case of man’s inhumanity to a fellow human being.
Massaba who reportedly married 90 wives and by that remains the man with the highest number of women in Nigeria, came into limelight shortly after the Governor Mu’azu Bababgida Aliyu assumed office between the year, 2007 and 2008 when he was challenged by the state government for keeping a harem of 86 women. The state government incidentally, could do little as it lacked the legal power under the then Shariah legal code which was one of the legacies of the former Governor, Abdulkadir Kure to prosecute him.
Unlike her fellow women in the harem, Azzatu took the bold but risky steps to free herself from the claws of Massaba whom she accused of being a serial abuser of women he ‘married’.
Azzatu who had dragged her former husband to court after the dissolution of their marriage contract for failure to pay her the sum of N 1.5 million earlier promised her while arranging for their wedding that lasted for barely seven months had in an interview with our correspondent, painted a pathetic picture of all that she passed through in the hands of Massaba and some of his boys who joined him in molesting her during one of the series of physical abuses that took place at his house in the dead hours of the night.
30-year old Azzatu, a fish monger in Bida, the headquarters of Bida Local Government Council, Niger state said she was married to her former husband after he completed all the marriage rituals as stipulated by Islam by paying a dowry of N20, 000 to her parents.
Before the marriage was sealed, Azzatu who also showed our correspondent her blouse that were torn into shreds as she was being manhandled by Massaba and his boys when the once sweet marriage turned sour said her proposed husband had agreed to give her the sum of N1.5 million apart from the earlier dowry of N20, 000 paid to her parents. But the pledge, she said, turned out to be merely made to entice her.
Massaba, she recounted usually entice most of his women with money by giving them huge sums of money ranging from N1million to 5 million depending on what was agreed upon between him and them before such marriages were contracted. But in her own case, he reneged by giving her a part payment of N 300,000 against the N1.5 million earlier agreed after the solemnization of their marriage.
While she had waited patiently for the remaining balance of N1.2 her ex-husband instead came to her seeking for financial assistance to solve a pressing issue, claiming that one of his sons had a court case which landed him into prison custody hence he needed money to save him. Upon his pleas and assurance that he would redeem his promise and as well pay the balance, Azzatu said she obliged him with the N300, 000 earlier given to her on loan.
Trouble however blew for the couple when her former husband refused to pay her back the N300, 000 loan as well as the remaining balance of the initial N1.5. She also accused him of not meeting her financial needs as a wife even when it was confirmed to the husband that she was pregnant.
Azzatu who could only speak Nupe, her native dialect fluently and smattering Hausa except through an interpreter said, “My insistence on demanding money from my ex-husband during our marriage that was characterized by frequent crisis led to the dissolution of the marriage while I was seven months old pregnant which my husband also acknowledged”.
When it became obvious that she could no longer continue with the relationship which, incidentally her ex-husband agreed to, Azzatu said he, after divorcing her, was still not willing to give her all the money he owed her. This, she said, prompted her to seek legal action against Massaba in a court she refused to disclose.
After waiting for sometimes and the court seemed not to be in a hurry to compel Massaba to fulfill the agreement between them, Azzatu said she resigned to fate.
Azzatu recalled however that she was at home during the last Ramadan fast when she saw an emissary from her ex-husband with a massage from her former husband that he wanted to see her over their matter with view to resolving everything once and for all.
Even with what appeared as a refreshing development, Azzatu said she informed one of her relations and suggested his escorting her to the house of her ex-husband. But unknown to them, surprises awaited them.
After waiting for him (Massaba) came out and apologized for keeping them waiting and also told her that he won’t be able to see her as arranged. He rather gave her and her companion another appointment. There was no explanation as to the change of mind
Azzatu said she was reluctant to turn up for the re-scheduled appointment because her relation that was supposed to accompany her told her that he won’t be able to make it. As she was thinking of what next to do, Azzatu said she saw the same boy that was sent to her earlier by her former husband coming with a message from Massaba to remind her about her appointment with him.
The fact that Massaba had sent someone to remind her of their appointment, Azzatu said, encouraged her to keep to their schedule without another companion. But on reaching the house in the evening, Azzatu said she was kept waiting without anyone talking to her until 10 pm. When she realized that it was getting late, she sent him a reminder that she had been waiting for him and would leave but was asked to wait for a little longer because he was attending to some people and would soon be through.
Azzatu also narrated how she waited and was about to go but was prevailed upon by one of Massaba’s wives who also spent time with her as a way of encouraging her to stay. She said she obliged by waiting until around 2 am when Baba as he was fondly called sent for her.
Azzatu who said she had waited for the whole day without food, went straight to the sitting room where he usually attends to visitors and met him with some people but to her chagrin, he extended his hand with N1, 000 (one thousand Naira) note telling her to collect but she rejected it; an action that infuriated the man.
“Turning down the offer may have infuriated him and he started raining all sorts of abuses on me, and when I demanded to know why I was being called names he descended on me, hitting me with his slippers and was supported in beating me by the people I met with him inside the sitting room”, Azzatu said.
In the process, Azzatu said she lost the sum of N160, 000 (one hundred and sixty thousand Naira) she tied in her wrapper, other valuables including her handset while she sustained bodily bruises and the dress she was wearing was torn as she was being rough handled.
It was based on the damages and molestation against her person, Azzatu said, she decided to take him to court again, this time around to Bida Magistrate court, Niger State expecting that the Court will this time come to her rescue.
When contacted on the matter, Massaba declined to make any comment, describing the incidence as a matter that did not deserve attention.