The wife of an Islamic cleric in Ibafo, Ogun State, Mrs Aina Larubawa, has raised the alarm over the health conditions of their kids who are inhaling the smoke of Indian hemp allegedly puffed by the cleric, Isau Larubawa.
The mother of five children lamented that she had been spending money to treat two of the children – Ajoke, 10 and seven-year-old Fatimoh – who are battling eye problem reportedly caused by the smoke.
She stated that all her efforts to prevail on her husband, who is in his 70s, to stop the habit of smoke far away from the house had proved abortive.
The family lives in a two bedroomed apartment.
Aina, who sells clothes, told City Round that Alfa asked her to bear with the situation or relocate elsewhere with the children.
The native of Oyo State said apart from the negative effects of the smoking, she had endured tough moments ranging from physical assault to lack of care for their children.
She recalled, “I have been in these problems seven months after we got married 24 years ago. I caught him smoking when my first pregnancy was five months. We were living at a boys’ quarter in Mowe then. I wouldn’t have married him if I knew he is a smoker. He said he intentionally hid it from me and that I could do my worse.
“I tried to abort the pregnancy to no avail. He beat me while I was pregnant. I didn’t want to divorce him because this is my second marriage. I remarried after my former husband, for whom I have a child, died. I don’t want people to be insulting me of moving from one matrimonial home to another. It was my sister who persuaded me to marry Alfa Larubawa because her husband and Alfa are childhood friends.
“There are a lot of issues but the most pressing one is Alfa’s smoking habit. I have been spending a lot of money to treat my two children because the smoke affects their eyes. About three years ago, some health workers came to our community to do free medical test for residents. They said my children and I had dirty substances logged in our chests. They advised us to move away from smoke, warning that it would affect our kidneys in the long run.
“I called Alfa and told him about the medical advice. I pleaded with him to stop smoking or do it outside for the sake of our children’s health. I showed him their eyes. We don’t use coal pots for cooking which could have caused the dirt in our chests. He said he had been smoking for a long time and he could not stop it. He said if I was not satisfied, I should leave home with my children.”
The 46-year-old woman stated further that she had been solely responsible for the upkeep of their children, adding that two of them had stopped going to school because she could no longer pay their school fees.
She disclosed that at the height of the serial assaults Alfa allegedly subjected her to, he threatened to kill her and the children under the pretext that he had run mad.
“That was when I started arming myself with a cutlass at night to defend myself and my children. I hardly sleep at night. I would have run away but I didn’t have the means to rent an apartment where I could take my children to,” Aina added, sounding betrayed and helpless.
She went on, “I was selling kerosene and bread while we were in a rented apartment. It was the money I realised from the business and some loans I took that we used to build our house in 2007. I am still repaying the loans. He only bought the land.
“I thought of using my money to build my own house but I felt it was not wise doing so when my husband had not built his own. I thought I would win his heart by assisting him. The building document is in his name.”
Our correspondent learnt that Alfa had initially reported his wife to a human rights group in Ibafo, One Love for Peace and Unity Foundation, claiming that she was threatening him with a cutlass.
The group was said to have invited the couple and their relations to a meeting recently during which Alfa’s excesses were unravelled.
Alfa’s childhood friend, who facilitated the couple’s marriage, Alhaji Arasi Lawal, testified to some of the allegations against the cleric in a video clip recorded at the meeting.
Lawal said, “Alfa Larubawa is my childhood friend. We have been friends since 1969 when we were bachelors. His first wife was my late sister. They have five children together. At a point, he complained to me that my sister was unkempt nd he would divorce her if she failed to change. I talked to my sister, but he eventually divorced her.
“I have warned him to stop smoking. He is only disgracing himself. He does not take care of his children. I am happy that this case is here (human rights group). I see him as somebody who is following the devil.”
The President of the foundation, Samuel Adegeye (aka Black Moses), said the group had written a petition to the Ibafo Police Station, urging them to wade into the matter.
He added, “I am also begging Nigerians to come to the aid of this woman and her children before something bad happens.”
Our correspondent contacted the cleric on the telephone on Friday to get his comments on the allegations. When asked to react to the allegation that he took Indian hemp, he went berserk, raining curses on the wife and ended the call.
He did not pick the subsequent calls our correspondent made to his line.
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, promised to contact the Ibafo Police Division on the case and get back to our correspondent with comments, but he had yet to do so as of press time.