DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ENGR. CHINYERE SYLVIA AKALEME (NEE IGBO)
The menace of Domestic Violence in Nigeria and its implications on the families of the victims
LATE ENGR. SYLVIA CHINYERE AKALEME
Unfortunately for Sylvia, or Chinyere as she was fondly called by family and close friends, she did not live to tell her own story. She was cut down in her prime by her husband, OBINNA AKALEME, the man she loved till death did them part. She died on the day she was due to give birth after a series of miscarriages in her husband’s house.
A Brief Biography of the Victim
Chinyere Sylvia Akaleme (nee Igbo) was born on April 27, 1981 into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Chiaka Igbo. The second child and first daughter of the family with six other siblings, Sylvia was raised in a middle-class Catholic family residing in Ajao Estate, Lagos, where she had her nursery, primary and secondary education. She was a very bright pupil and her position in class never went below the top three. She gained admission into the University of Ilorin in Kwara State where she read electrical engineering and graduated with second class honours. She started a career in information technology and quickly got several professional qualifications, including SISCO, into her academic profile.
She started her working career with Karox Computers before moving on to Reliance Info Systems Ltd where she became a product and sales manager.
Her last job was with the Wini Group, an Ikeja, Lagos-based corporation.
In 2012 she met and married Obinna Akaleme, a farmer/chef/ kitchen assistant and thus began her journey to an untimely death in the hands of the man she loved so much and catered for. She died on March 29, 2017 and was committed to mother earth at Ikoyi Cemetery on July 19, 2017.
Engr Sylvia is survived by her aged grandmother, her parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace, Amen.
Her parents and siblings never knew Chinyere endured several years of abuse in the hands of the man she called her husband. She assumed the role of a typical Nigerian wife who must always display nonexistent happiness in a marriage filled with sadness and regrets. The only clue about what happened to her during her more than five years of marriage was the account of the neighbors who narrated how, on a particular night, Obinna her husband beat her up and she ran to their landlord’s house for safety. Also the little girl who lived with her revealed that Chinyere warned her not to tell her parents that her husband used to beat her up even while she was over eight months pregnant.
That explained the reason behind the series of miscarriages she had before her last pregnancy which was full-term. Her parents who got worried that their daughter had suffered about four miscarriages in less than four years decided to take her to stay with them when she took in after she miscarried an eight-month-old pregnancy. She lived peacefully with her parents and her pregnancy advanced, with Chinyere in good health and high spirits anticipating the birth of her child.
Unfortunately for her, on her due date, Obinna her husband came at 10:00 a.m. to drive her from her father’s house to the hospital and, as a submissive wife, she obeyed him and went with him. According to the doctor, the mother and the baby were confirmed healthy on arrival. The doctor asked her to go get her bag in preparation for delivery that evening. Obinna took Chinyere to their matrimonial home. Sadly for Chinyere, he got into an argument with her over money, beat her up so badly and left her unconscious in the house. He left the house and switched off his phone and her own phone as well so no one could reach them. He left her in the house and every attempt made to reach them was futile.
Obinna later returned and took her to the hospital at about 4:30 p.m. when he discovered she was dying. He did not deem it fit to contact her parents or siblings. He kept them in the dark so as not to run the risk of her coming out of coma and telling her family her ordeal at the hands of her husband.
It is also worthy to note that the hospital where she died was less than 100 metres from her parents’ home.
Obinna eventually came to her parents’ home around 8:30 p.m. to tell them she had passed on.
Further findings from her siblings and the doctor’s confirmation revealed that Chinyere was brought to the hospital lifeless (practically dead). The doctor decided to do a cesarean section to try and save the baby but it was too late.
Chinyere’s sad story is one among millions involving Nigerian women who fall victim to sexual and emotional predators because they want to be accepted by the society at large. They hide their ordeal from the very people that can rescue them – their families. Women these days pretend that they are in happy marriages even when the obvious signs say otherwise.
For how long will we keep up with this trend of pretending all is well when it obviously isn’t? Must we live a lie for societal acceptance? Let’s come together and say NO to domestic violence and spousal abuse.
There are many families like Chinyere’s who wish their children had remained single and lived with them instead of getting married and killed by their partners.
Enough is enough!