I Didn’t Beat My Wife

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Recalled Nigeria’s ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe, alleged to have battered his wife, Mrs. Tess Wigwe in Kenya, has denied beating his wife.In a statement he sent to Huhuonline.com, a website devoted to Nigerian news, Ambassador Wigwe denied categorically that he attacked his wife, saying what happened shocked him.“I wish to state quite categorically that I did not beat my wife and that I did not ask for food either in writing or verbally. What happened that fateful Wednesday night was shocking to me and clearly fits into a pre-planned mould cast by the avid Crime TV watcher. I had returned home late at night after attending the launch of a new product, Go Places, by Kenya Commercial Bank which was held at the Hilton Hotel. As is my practice, I went straight to my room and began to take off my jacket. Mrs Wigwe marched into my room shouting on top of her voice (that is how she speaks to me) that if I knew I would not be eating at home, I should tell her so she does not have to prepare any meals for me. I was stunned as indeed I had been eating regularly every day when I come home from work. I took it for a joke but I saw she was going on and on and would not let me put in a word. Her loud voice attracted my daughter, Ada who came over to my room. Upon sighting my daughter I told her to please convince her mother that I had been eating food I met in the fridge every day at least for the past two weeks. Mrs Wigwe was taking none of that and insisted and before I knew it she was abusing me and calling me names. I naturally got angry and told her that if she were indeed taking proper charge of her kitchen then she would have noticed that I do eat what has been prepared for me. She took offence with my comment and became agitated when I asked her when or what has prompted her sudden interest and care for my welfare”.

•Ambassador Chijioke and the the battered wife.

Background:I married Tess Iyi Wigwe (nee Oniga) under native law and custom on 9th April 1978. The girl I married was famous for her temper and fighting ability. With my gentle and unassuming nature, I honestly believed that the sharp contrast in our characters could neutralize and complement each other. It was a grave error of judgment.

I joined the Nigerian Foreign Service in April 1984 after teaching at the University of Jos for some years. My first posting in 1986 was to Tokyo, Japan. I was in charge of Commercial and Trade Matters. One night in July 1988, I took my female colleague from another Embassy out for dinner. It was actually the first outing. After dinner, I took her in my car in order to drop her off at a train station. As we drove through town, a car which I quickly recognised as mine (I owned 2 cars) and being driven by Mrs Wigwe pulled up beside us at a traffic light. Mrs Wigwe hurled air freshener bottles and any other objects she could find in the car to hit us. I later came down from the vehicle and explained to her who the lady was. But she did not believe me and instead chased me through the city shouting abuses at us and throwing objects at us. When I got to a train station, I opened the door and let the lady out. Mrs Wigwe abandoned her car in the middle of the road causing a big jam as she ran after the lady. She caught up with her and after interrogating her, seriously assaulted her, and beat her so mercilessly using the woman’s umbrella that the woman passed out. Mrs Wigwe fearing that the lady was dead fled the scene taking with her the woman’s hand bag. Good Samaritans took the lady to hospital where she spent one month in intensive care. I was made to pay the woman’s hospital bills. The morning after the attack, Mrs Wigwe traced me to the Embassy where I had taken shelter and took a huge stone and smashed the windscreen of the car to pieces. Mrs Wigwe never admitted to taking the handbag and its contents. However, months later, the wife of a colleague with whom she had left the handbag, confessed. This gross act of violence visited on an innocent woman, so angered the Nigerian Ambassador and the entire staff that it was decided that Mrs Wigwe should be punished severely to deter other wives with such inclinations. Accordingly, she was suspended from post for 3 months and repatriated to Nigeria by the Embassy in October 1988. She spent a total of 6 months at home coming back only in April 1989 when my posting came to an abrupt end following the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to recall over 150 officers worldwide who had spent 24 months and above at post in the wake of the structural adjustment programme of the government of the day.

That premature recall had a serious psychological impact on my very young family of 4 and I decided to take a one year study leave at own expense ostensibly to pursue a post-graduate diploma in journalism in London, but strategically, to insulate our children from the disruptive effects of the unpredictable posting policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I therefore took my family along with me at great cost. When I left England in February 1992, I left my family behind. In 1993 I was posted to Warsaw, Poland but my family remained in London for the sake of the children’s and Mrs Wigwe’s education. Having learnt a bitter lesson from Tokyo, I unilaterally decided that Mrs Wigwe must not live with me at post in Warsaw. Instead, I encouraged her quest for higher education since she had only secondary education when I married her. She graduated from Middlesex University in July 1998. I paid her fees through university from 1993 and law school. At the end of my posting in October 1998, I returned to Nigeria. The family, now well established and settled, remained in London. Between 1998 and 1999 I made regular visits to the family. In November 1999, Mrs Wigwe visited me in Abuja and we travelled to her home town. We had a very serious misunderstanding. We returned to Abuja and she travelled back to London. When she returned to London after two weeks, she informed me that she no longer wished for me to come to London as previously planned to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays. All my efforts to reach her by telephone, fax and mail were unsuccessful. The situation continued until 2002 when on transiting London en route New York for an official assignment in July 2002, I discovered that Mrs Wigwe had brought her male lover, a Nigerian of Yoruba tribe, to live with her and the children in the family house. The children told me how they had bitterly resented her and her lover. But she ignored the children and co-habited with her boyfriend in the family house for close to a year. To all intents and purposes, we were still husband and wife; we were not even officially separated! It was then I knew the reason why I had been barred from visiting the family since 1999. Consequently, and bruising from the humiliation she had bestowed on me and the children in particular, I hastily remarried in December 2002. I married my colleague in the service whom I had not actually known for more than six months. By mutual consent in December 2006, we decided to separate amicably and to remain friends which we are to date. As the marriage had no children it was quite easy for us to part. I remained a bachelor.

Following my nomination as ambassador in September 2007, I called Mrs Wigwe on phone to offer her an olive branch and to ask her to join me, if she so wished, to associate with my new appointment. It was another grave error of judgment. Although I never intended that we should live together under the same roof again as husband and wife given our antecedents and the coldness of feelings that mutually existed between us after many years of separate lives. I was only prepared for her to have a sense of belonging and attachment to my new status considering also that we have 5 children together. I thought the honour was due to her. She accepted and travelled to see me in Abuja in April 2008. Our first encounter after many years, proved to me and I guess to her, that we could truly no longer call ourselves husband and wife. Nevertheless and much to my shock and deep apprehension, she decided to take a leave of absence for 3 years from her employer in London to join me in residence in Nairobi. She insisted that I should take over her monthly expenditures in London including an ongoing mortgage for the family house I had myself helped her to buy in 2004 after she was on the verge of losing it due to lack of funds to meet her housing loan requirements. I did this in spite of not being married to her. I did it for the sake of the children. I could not contest her decision to come and live with me in Nairobi thus I let her come. But, it was clear as crystal that our differences and her mistrust of me and our mutual dislike for each other’s company were insoluble but above all that our long evaporated love would never come back. Thus, we have been living in separate bedrooms connected by an inner door that is firmly and permanently locked from her side of the border. We decided to live with as minimal contact with each other as we could manage. Because she often refused to open her door, we developed the art of communication by notes pushed under the door. She liked it so much as it often allowed her to state her endless money requests without having to justify them. We hardly engage in conversations except when she needs money. Our irregular engagements in the act of conversation often end up in a quarrel. In public we manage to present a united front but those who are close to us know that we were only putting up appearances. We did fairly well and were just longing for the end of my tenure as ambassador so that we could resume forever our separate lives. That long hoped for time is nearly with us and hence the deep anxiety on the part of Mrs Wigwe who for 3 years has lived in reasonable comfort and financial security, with a Mercedes Benz car and a driver to complement her status. The end of my tenure would mean a return to financial stress and anxiety for her. Mrs Wigwe is in a desperate mood. I am reliably informed that most of the GBP 1,700 mortgage (about $2,800) that I have to cough out every month from my meagre Foreign Service allowance and remit to her account in London through my Barclays account in Nairobi, was allegedly misappropriated by someone she trusted in London and that to date the mortgage in London is in tatters and Mrs Wigwe has suffered a loss of GBP 10,000. Besides this loss, Mrs Wigwe claimed that she had lost $6,000 in cash from her bedroom in 2009 and most recently another $3,000. The houseboy then in 2009 was accused of stealing the money from Mrs Wigwe’s 24 hour locked bedroom. The servant pleaded his innocence and the money was never found and police abandoned the matter and we sacked the servant. The latest theft of $3,000 again from her heavily locked bedroom sometime this year remains a mystery. She did interrogate the new servant and even followed him to his house to interrogate his wife, but nothing came of it. Mrs Wigwe is in a desperate state financially. This is the motive for the onslaught against me in a desperate attempt to tarnish my image and reputation and to get monetary compensation that will restore her big loss and sustain her for a long time. That is why she has carefully chosen the words she used in the story that appeared in the Star where she was talking of spine and paralysis. Mrs Wigwe is an avid watcher of the television channel Crime Investigation. She hardly watches anything else. She had obviously practised and rehearsed her lines and actions for months in her premeditated assault on me on Wednesday 11th May 2011. Concerning her wish for spine injury that would lead to paralysis, I can only pray God to please graciously grant her wish so that she may truly know what it is to have spine injury.

ALLEGATION OF WIFE BATTERING

On Thursday 26th May 2011, the Star, a Nairobi based tabloid, published a story in its front page with photographs showing a badly bruised face of Mrs Tess Wigwe and an allegation that I, her husband, had inflicted those injuries on her face. It was alleged that I had beaten my wife because she had responded to a “note” from me requesting to be served food. It was alleged that I had so beaten her that she suffered injuries to her spine and she was in danger of being paralysed. Many other allegations dating back to many years then followed in her premeditated attempt to build a solid case against me, including the foolish allegation that I used to bring women to the Residence in 2008 and the blatantly false information that she left me in Nigeria in 1999 and went to England to study and live.

RESPONSE

In response to these allegations, I wish to state quite categorically that I did not beat my wife and that I did not ask for food either in writing or verbally. What happened that fateful Wednesday night was shocking to me and clearly fits into a pre-planned mould cast by the avid Crime TV watcher.. I had returned home late at night after attending the launch of a new product, Go Places, by Kenya Commercial Bank which was held at the Hilton Hotel. As is my practice, I went straight to my room and began to take off my jacket. Mrs Wigwe matched into my room shouting on top of her voice (that is how she speaks to me) that if I knew I would not be eating at home, I should tell her so she does not have to prepare any meals for me. I was stunned as indeed I had been eating regularly every day when I come home from work. I took it for a joke but I saw she was going on and on and would not let me put in a word. Her loud voice attracted my daughter Ada who came over to my room. Upon sighting my daughter I told her to please convince her mother that I had been eating food I met in the fridge every day at least for the past two weeks. Mrs Wigwe was taking none of that and insisted and before I knew it she was abusing me and calling me names. I naturally got angry and told her that if she were indeed taking proper charge of her kitchen then she would have noticed that I do eat what has been prepared for me. She took offence with my comment and became agitated when I asked her when or what has prompted her sudden interest and care for my welfare.

In her characteristic manner, Mrs Wigwe lunged at me to slap me. I tried defending myself and indeed my daughter came in the way and as we tussled and jostled around the door to her own bedroom where a massive wooden shoe rack was standing, Mrs Wigwe received a cut. Once she felt blood on her right side of face, Mrs Wigwe used her right hand to rub the blood and smeared her entire face with it. She ran into her bedroom and produced a camera and in the presence of my daughter and I, Mrs Wigwe photographed herself, taking two to three shots. She was shouting that she had got me, and that the whole world was going to see her bloodied face; that she was going to send the picture to Abuja.

As my daughter and I tried to push her into her room to prevent her from coming to fight me, my daughter’s hand was caught in the bedroom door and she gasped in pain. Mrs Wigwe also grabbed her phone and called her friend Yvonne to come and take her as she had been injured and bleeding. My son Nelson, who also joined in the effort to restrain Mrs Wigwe, offered to wipe the blood but Mrs Wigwe refused. With camera in hand, Mrs Wigwe ran downstairs and outside the building and for the next one hour was hurling abuses at me and shouting obscenities about me and my family and friends. It took the combined efforts of the Security Guard, the Cook and my son Nelson Ikenna to hold her back and prevent her from re-entering the house which I had now safely locked. In frustration that she could not re-enter the house, Mrs Wigwe who claimed in her report to the Star that she had suffered spinal injury, managed to wrestle with three able men and finally broke loose to carry a flower pot to smash the big glass window of the room we use as gym. She carried the flower pot and threw it at the glass window, shattering it. Not long after, her friend Yvonne arrived and together with my daughter they drove off. No ambulance was needed to convey Mrs Wigwe to hospital. Mrs Wigwe did not first rush to the Police to report the incident and show her injuries to the police. Mrs Wigwe only reported to the police on 27th May! That speaks volumes. She went to the police after people had begun to doubt her story! The first wave of shock when the story first hit the headlines had begun to give way to sombre reflection and analysis. As the children and house staff began to contradict her story, she decided it was time to make a statement to the police. She began to focus on her dual citizenship and what the British government might do for her.