A 27-year-old woman, Hassana Umar Jega has cried out for help after repeated failure to secure a court order to divorce her husband of 14 years.
Jega said that she was forced to marry Alhaji Akitu Bunu, the former Commissioner of Works in Kebbi State when she was 13 years old but after several years of persuading him to send her to school and he refused, she had sought to divorce him but has not been successful in her attempt.
Jega added that Bunu, who is currently a Federal Commissioner representing the Kebbi State at the Federal Character Commission (FCC), consistently beats her and locks her up in a room for over 24 hours whenever she brings up the topic of acquiring knowledge in a formal school setting without giving her an option for enrolling in an adult education scheme.
Jega said because of her passion for schooling, she had resorted to filing for a divorce in court but efforts to dissolve the marriage had proved abortive.
She said, “My name is Hassana Umar from Jega local government area of Kebbi State. I was forced to marry the Commissioner at 13 years of age. I am 27 years old now. His name is Atiku Bunu Jega, the former Commissioner of Works in Kebbi but now he is a Federal Character Commissioner in Abuja, he represents Kebbi State. When I was to get married to him, my parents consented to it but I was not interested.
“Alhaji Bunu was 55 years old when I got married to him. I have experienced so many bad things in the marriage. I wanted to go to school but he refused. I tried many times to get out, I involved many people around us to get divorced but he refused. Whenever I bring up the issue, he threatens me, he will starve me, he will lock me up in a room for a day and a half and without anything to eat. He beats me up.
“He doesn’t have children of his own and I’m not the first wife or second, I’m the sixth wife. Three of the other wives separated from him and got married to other people and have husbands now. I am not the last wife. I had gone to my parents and neighbours to explain all that has been happening and they confronted him about it. He said they have no right and that he will not divorce me. He said they can do whatever they want but I will not get a divorce from him.
“I went to the Emir of Gandu in Kebbi State and lodged my complaint. He brought my case to the local government here in Jega, they called Alhaji Bunu to come, he said he would not come. He sent his family to tell them that they had no interest in the matter because he would not listen to them. He said he is not ready to divorce me.
“We took the case to the court in Jega, to Judge Aminu of the Upper Sharia Court of Jega local government area. For the eight months the case was on, he never set his foot in the court but he sent his lawyer, and in that case file, I never levelled any allegation against him.
“I just said I want to get a divorce under Islamic law, I never included any of my problems. I just said I want to get divorced and that I was forcefully married to him at 13. I don’t love him, and I’m willing to return the bride price. Those were the things written in my case file, I didn’t include my problems.
“After eight months, the judge said our case file had been stolen so we were waiting for about two months, there was no feedback. The case was transferred to Birnin-Kebbi. I and my lawyer went to the Upper Shakira court in the capital with the same case but the judge, Atiku Mohammad Bello, said I should go back to my husband’s house. This was after four months.
“We are still in court now; we went to appeal the last judgement at the Upper Sharia Court of Appeal. As it stands now, my family is behind my decision to divorce this man. Initially, they were against it but now, they are behind me. I have left his house two years ago; I am in my parents’ house and he still refused to divorce me. I want a divorce; I don’t want anything except divorce.”
When SaharaReporters called Alhaji Bunu’s telephone lines, he replied through his lawyer, one Barrister Ahmad.
Ahmad told SaharaReporters that he had advised his client not to say anything as regards the case as it was still before the Sharia Court of Appeal in Kebbi State.
He wrote, “My name is Barrister Ahmad from Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State. I represent Hassana’s husband in her divorce case against him before the Shari’a Court of Appeals Birnin-Kebbi.
“He seeks my legal advice about your text message request, and I advised him not to say anything as the case is before the Shari’a Court of Appeals. More especially she is the one who instituted the action against him and she is the one who still appealed against the Judgement of the trial Upper Shari’a Court. So please, we kindly exercise patience not (sic) to preempt the Court Exercise. Thanks.”