Wednesday, August 06, 2008

500 Nigerians in US Jails charged with femicide

Thanks to Toyin Falola and Amina Mama for the forwarded email:

Nigerian in US murder mess
By Ike Nnamdi, The Sun Reporter, New York
The Sun, Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Michael C. Iheme
A Nigerian national who police authorities said gunned down his wife in cold blood has pleaded not guilty to the act, in a case that has thrown the country's community in Missouri into mourning. According to police records, Michael C. Iheme shot his estranged wife Anthonia in a parking lot and calmly called police and said, "I have killed the woman that messed my life up, a woman that had destroyed me," A Hennepin County, St. Louis Criminal Court said Iheme will be subjected to mental evaluation before his trial will commence.

Police said Anthonia, 28 a mother of two children was shot by her husband as she left work at an assisted-living center.

Two witnesses reported seeing a man matching Iheme's description with a gun near his wife's car in the parking lot. County court records showed that she had an restraining order against Iheme because of a history of domestic abuse. One of Anthonia co-workers said she saw her get into her car and then Iheme get out of his car and shoot at her car, which lurched forward, clipped a van, jumped a curb and rolled down a hill into a fence. Iheme allegedly followed the car down the hill and fired more shots.

A neighbor said Iheme stayed home to care for their two children while Anthonia worked to provide for the family. Reports said Anthonia moved out after repeated fights with her husband. American law enforcement agencies have reported a disturbing increase in the number of domestic abuse cases involving Nigerians. According to records, over 500 Nigerians are in jail or awaiting trial in several states for killing their spouses. Socials workers attribute the trend to pressure and stress of juggling sometimes multiple jobs and family, while trying to keep up with the expectations.


Anonymous,  10:25 pm  

I think these cases can be linked to certain Nigerian cultures. That our 'Noblesse Oblige'culture of expecting from people, who we feel have money to fulfill certain responsiblities and really be flamboyant. And men are often subjects to this prevailent culture that needs to be reformed. The Iheme guy's was screaming that his wife destroyed his life and he's the one without a job. Goes to show how affected some are, by this culture, and the extent pple can be pushed to.

Ms. Catwalq 7:52 am  

It is not just nigerians, there are alot of African men in the same situation. The fact is that, abroad they (the men) cannot get away with some of the things that are excused by our cultures and attitudes at home. Say for instance, you cannot just grab your wife and have sex just because you want to. if she doesn't want to, that is rape. In Nigeria, most women don't even know that so u can imagine the bewilderment a Nigerian man is faced with when he is suddenly turned criminal for "enjoying his husbandly rights"

Or imagine the man that goes home to get a "pure and traditional" woman only to realise that she went into the whole thing for papers. There are so many scenarios but the underlying factor is that abroad, the woman is given rights, protection and privileges that she can enjoy and possibly exploit.

And then again, remember that we do not allow any evidence of mental illness to be discussed or addressed, so possibly we have lot of disturbed men...

Anonymous,  11:37 am  

jeremy, how do you know its femicide. the article you posted merely referred to spouses as the victims, with no reference to gender

Anonymous,  11:39 am  

ms. catwalq, what then are the reasons for women killing their significant others in these instances. i guess even then it must be the man's fault for driving her to hill

Buki 12:32 pm  

Many Nigerians who live in diaspora are generally depressed. This is something we hate to face up to because we believe any form of ill mental health is spiritual attack (maybe some) but a lot of people are actually depressed because of the situations they have forced themselves to live in. There are many "paper" marriages with the naija man/woman labouring to satisfy the paper spouse and his family back home. And after years of continuous slavery in a foreign land, a trip to nigeria reveals that all those they were labouring for are doing extremely better than them, their friends who seemed to be in pitiful states are soaring and they are just a mess? And you wonder why they fire?
Not saying that they should pick up a gun and kill somebody but our people need to be realistic in their choices, if you cant fend for your younger ones, cousins and the lot... speak out! You only have one life.

Anengiyefa 12:58 pm  

@ Anonymous 10.25, I dont believe that the story provides enough information to cause anyone to jump to the conclusion that because he was unemployed, he could not be justified in claiming that the deceased woman destroyed his life. Better to keep an open mind until you know more about the reality of the circumstances of their lives.

I do not accept that wife battering has anything to do with whether a person is Nigerian or African. I suspect that it is more of a serious matter in the Western world because women's right's are better protected in those places. There are wife beaters in every country on every continent, but there are Nigerian/African men too who respect their partners and who would never resort to violence under any circumstances.

Having said that, Mr Iheme's alleged act was more than a mere case of wife battering. He is said to have pulled up in a car park and calmly shot dead the mother of his children, in cold blood, then telephoned the police to say what he had done. This speaks of a very disturbed mind and the said proposed mental evaluation is in my estimation, the correct course of action to take with a view to determining the extent of his criminal liability.

Air beneath my feet 1:08 pm  

Well, I do not believe this is particularly a Nigerian issue. Oh, no, I do not think so.

See some examples:

Englishman murders wife before killing himself

Scotsman kills wife!

Lebanese man kills wife!

Wife kills husband with AKE (YORUBA WORD FOR axe)!

Like I thought earlier, I still think the difference is that before we had less publicity, while now we've begun to speak aloud and even write about everything under the sun, which is why in the very near future nothing will be strange anymore.

But turning to the above comments, something tells me some may even think this sort of crimes could be religion specific i.e. linked more to the Christian Nigerian, to Buddhist Nigerian, IFA worshipers, or Muslims etc.

I think not.

Generally, I think it goes beyond culture or race <i.e. Nigerian or African. In fact, it goes beyond class i.e. whether elite or working class. For example, the other day, I opened another Russian novel (crime and punishment) regarding a complaining landlady killed by her tenant, who owed back-rent!

I think it may well be to do with the temperament and education of the individual.

Kody 6:52 am  

The primary reason, I would have thought, why so many Nigerian men are in jail for spousal abuse/murder in the US is because of US's liberal policy on gun ownership. Any little argument and a gun is pulled and people die.

I can bet the statistics are not the same for Nigerians (or indeed anyone) living in other countries abroad where the other reasons given (marriage of convenience, greater rights for women, unemployment, double job frusrations etc) also apply.

anonymaus,  8:32 am  

Other than what I've read, I know nothing about the story and am not making any direct comment aimed at the account. So to those who like getting the knickers in a twist, take it easy!!

Seems like a case of failing to cope with the new society, people find themselves in. This can be put down to a number of factors

* Both parties cherishing being forceful (ie loud, abrasive and pushy)
* The male bringing the attitude of being the unquestioned top body in the house and seeking
to monopolise all power.
* The female having her own aspirations (and having no intention to abandon them)
* The man failing to live up to internal expectations, as well as external expectations (from the nucleur and extended family).
* The man resorting to violence when challenged.
* Failure to be flexible and seek compromise. Persisting in attitudes fostered in Nigeria that accept domestic violence and tyranny. Which are upheld on a cultural and societal level.
* American society not tolerating domestic abuse.
* Failure to seek help (counselling), this may be a taboo in Nigeria, America is a whole different ball game.
* Black women frequently do better than (black) men in America, (not sure why, society there welcomes them more).

Although leaving Nigeria (a land which is opportunity defficient, and difficult when compared to the US) to go to America a land perceived as flowing with milk and honey. Life at least in the initial phase will not be easy. The determination to reinforce the myth, that once you step foot in the US you've made it, only contributes to these pressures.

A question I would like answered is, if all else fails why not just simply walk away from the marriage rather than resorting to murder? (This is a question I would really like someone to answer). America is not a country that stigmatises divorcees unlike Nigeria.

I'm just looking at this from a Nigerian context, I'm sure it is not unique to Nigerians in the US though.

Idemili 2:07 pm  

Some African men also cannot deal with what they perceive to be 'the guts' that their women acquire on getting to America and earning their own money. Especially if the woman then becomes more successful and the man loses his job/has to stay home etc.

Life can be a bitch. Imagine coming from a society that worships at the altar of masculinity (in all forms) to one where - albeit on the surface - you can succeed on merit. Suddenly people are no longer handing things to you on a plate because of the swinging pendulum between your legs and you can no longer get away with murder. Now imagine if (AND ALL THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO ALL MEN BY THE WAY) you have never really bothered to work that hard anyway; now you're up against not just your fellow men, but against your village Adanma (whom you brought from the village because she wasn't a challenge to your masculinity)who then shows you up by earning a load more.

And then your boys/family laugh at you and call you 'Pussy', and to make matters worse you can't indulge in such chic retail like shopping, talking to your friends (because like I mentioned, the ha-has are brutal) and you can't see a shrink because WE JUST DON'T DO THAT...

If you have been nodding in assent, shame on you! There is no excuse for killing your wife, so get over yourself,realise that you are in the marriage together, SHUT OUT THE OUTSIDE WORLD/EXTENDED FAMILY'S OPINIONS and accept that sometimes, the other person has to shoulder the financial burden. Now please get your kids ready for school before they are punished for being late!

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