Azuka walked into chief Amadin’s residence. The house was big, so big one could get lost within its walls. After her mother’s trial, she had been shipped off to live with a distant uncle. Her mother was Benin and this Edo uncle of hers was rich enough to feed her to her 12th generation.
“Good evening auntie,” she genuflected greeting her aunt who wore a stern look
“Ummmhun…” Lisa retorted. Why her husband chose to bring a murderer into their home baffled her.
Lisa stood clutching her Ghana must go bag under her arm. It held her only and most prized possessions.
“Christiana will take you to your room,” uncle Amadin spoke as he entered the living room
“Yes Ma,” Azuka replied.
Lisa hissed as Azuka walked away. “Honey I don’t like this idea of bringing this girl here, what if she stabs someone by mistake?”
“Ah, ah, Lisa, you know all she did was in self-defense. My sister is alive today because of this girl. Who knows what her fool of a husband would have done to her?”
“Hmmm chief, chief, I’m just saying my own ooo”
“Relax, moreover we need help, she can help with one or two chores in this house.”
That ended the argument between her uncle and his wife. Living in that beautiful house had been hellish- if they had wanted a slave, they should have told her mother, and the money recovered from selling her off would have gone a long way.
She stole from the Amadins, paltry sums they may not notice. Chioma was still in school and was never going to end up like her.
“Mama, please send Chioma to school, I’ll do my best to ensure she remains in school, who knows, and we may eventually get out of this someday.”
What she didn’t tell her mother was that uncle Amadin knew she stole from him but never mentioned it because he constantly abused her. Yes, her uncle, was sleeping with her.
It had started two nights after she moved in, when he stealthily entered her room and raped her, then it became consistent. Since she had everything to gain, she decided to stay mute, hopefully this abysmal act didn’t have a repercussion.
Eight months into the house, she fell pregnant.
“Uncle, I think am pregnant, I haven’t seen my monthly flow for two months and aunty said I look it”
“You must be mad!” He spat
“How can you stupidly get pregnant, it’s not like you were not experienced in this before I stepped in… nonsense!” He hissed and walked out of the room.
By the next morning, uncle Amadin had cooked up a story of seeing her and the gateman together in bed and wanting her out of the house. His wife didn’t hesitate in throwing her out…she had never liked her anyway.
“Wow! I can’t even imagine what you went through” Daniel Gasped
*She had seen torture, but the next few months of life was torture itself.*
“Mama please don’t die on me, I can’t take care of this baby alone. How do I explain to chioma that I let you down?” She cried
Her mother had been diagnosed of breast cancer, the doctors discovered it early and if they had money, she had a 60 percent survival chance.
She walked out of the hospital room towards the reception,
“Hello Miss Azuka, the doctor would like to see you” a Nurse said
Azuka followed the beautiful hippy nurse into the doctor’s office, she was so calm and had a permanent smile that was reassuring. “Thank you” she muttered
“Miss Azuka, your mother’s cancer has metasised.” The doctor said
“What does that mean?”
“It means the cancer is spreading, if we don’t take action, we could lose her as it spreads further into her organs.”
Azuka sighed. “But I don’t have any money”
The doctor gazed at her, he had compassion written across his face.
“Doctor I’d like to ask for a favor, can I sell this baby?”
“No, we don’t do that here” he shifted on his seat
“Okay, I don’t mean sell, I mean give her out for adoption, and in turn the person can help foot my mother’s bill that’s all I ask for.”
“Are you sure? This is a huge sacrifice, your child for your mother’s life, we are not even sure she will make it”
“Doctor, I don’t have the means to care for the child, I would rather she gets a better life than this, find me suitable parents please”
Within a few weeks, the adoption papers were ready, my unborn child was adopted by a couple who had been waiting 20 years to have a child. I saw the joy this news brought to them. It was better for me, the child didn’t have to know the circumstances of her birth, a product of incest. She would be born in a new environment filled with hope.
“Where was Chioma in all of this?” Daniel asked wiping tears off his eyes
“Chioma was a lucky child, she had the best results nationwide in her senior secondary school certificate examinations which made her qualify for the scholarship awards. She moved to the UK and I warned her never to contact us until she was done with school, I needed her to concentrate fully. She only learned of my mother’s death last year when she returned and my uncles told her, but I never tried to make any contact with her…we were bad news, Chioma had a good life I wanted her to enjoy the best of it.”
“Do you know where your daughter is right now?”
“No I don’t…” she sniffed
“Do you sometimes feel you should have kept her?”
“I don’t even know what I wished I did differently, like I was born into violence, lived violently and life isn't fair, one survival key was to be defensive. Giving her away was my way of defending her from this life…. Defense, which is exactly what landed me in this.”
“I started life yet again, became a driver. People at the motor park would laugh at me, some sympathized, and others wanted to prey on me. There my defensive skills set in again, I was violent but joining the motor park association made me brutal, I dealt with whatever came my way violently. And Until a few days ago, I was doing just fine. I mean I just got myself a new bus, I was going to become the assistant motor park leader, might not sound perfect but I was beginning to rise above the phoenix.” She sighed
“Azuka, I am so sorry” Chioma sobbed
Azuka smiled. “See how you have turned out. Great! Mama would be proud. You never met dad but I guess he would be proud too.”
Chioma broke down in tears… “I don’t want you to go to jail”
“That’s where I belong, I don’t want to go too, but I am jail worthy.” Azuka said crying
“Oga sir, time don reach oo,” the warden announced. Daniel stood, staggered a bit, he had heard so much for one day. A child abused by her step father and uncle who she had a daughter for.
“I’ll see what I can do about getting you a lighter sentence but you would have to face reality, you will go to jail Azuka, this was not done in self-defense, this was murder. Your history should get you a lighter sentence but, I won’t guarantee you anything.
Azuka closed her eyes as the cell door was closed by the warden. The space felt cold and empty. She allowed the tears flow freely, this was the first time she had felt emotional all her life. She was ruined, ruined by her past.
Judge Ibinabo shifted on her seat, this was a tough one; she looked from the fine print of evidence against this woman and her history. This was a troubled soul. One defined by her past and present.
Shaking her head, she turned the sheets before her, the jury had given their verdict it was time to pass her judgement.
“The society at large is unaware of the consequence of exposing a child to danger and violence. A child exposed to violence will later turn out violent, a child raised in love and proper correction will make a youth worthy of emulation. This fine woman is ultimately guilty of her crime, she murdered a man in cold blood, but is lined by the circumstances she was raised in.
Your history shows you are mentally unstable and the psychiatrist says you suffer from Post Traumatic Depression and Bipolar Disorder. People who are charged with a criminal offence and who are suffering from a mental disorder are dealt with under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 as amended by the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2010.
Considering that you never followed any treatments and have consistently been symptomatic of the disease, do you plead guilty or not?”
“Guilty, but mentally disturbed” she sobbed.
“According to the criminal law insanity act 2006, if someone charged with murder successfully pleads diminished responsibility, then the verdict is manslaughter. The court has very carefully considered and weighed the aggravating and mitigating Circumstances found to exist in this case, being ever mindful that human life is at stake in the balance.
i. That you Miss Azuka took the life of Mr Isaac in cold blood,
ii. That you had one time, as a teenager taken the life of another and was never prosecuted for it.
iii. That there had been three count charges against you for violence, attempted murder and conniving to attempt murder (this was revealed by your motor park association as its occupants are scared for their lives)
The court finds, as did the jury, that the aggravating circumstances present in this case outweigh the mitigating circumstances present.
Accordingly, it is:
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the defendant, Miss Azuka Edosogie Okoli, is hereby sentenced to death for
The murder of the victim, Mr Isaac. I rise
Chioma wailed as Azuka was led out.
Chioma, don’t be quiet about this, speak up, write this story….let the world know I was scarred, I was scarred. I love you!