Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, so goes a popular saying. But in the case of 19-year-old Fatima Audu, a trader, who recently got married in Lagos, the fury of a man rejected can equally be lethal.
Audu’s case brings to the fore the rarely reported cases of violence suffered by young women in the hand of men whose marriage proposal they reject.
With a narrative that bears some resemblance to the case of 30-year-old Oluwatosin Ashinwo, who Saturday PUNCH reported last week to have been murdered in Ilorin, Kwara State by a rejected lover, Audu has been extremely lucky.
In an unnamed street in a suburb of Lagos on Thursday, our correspondent paid a visit to Audu in a house that has come to be her hideout.
She pleaded with our correspondent not to mention the name of the street of her current abode.
Fearing for her life, the young lady is lying low, away from the violent man who made one attempt on her life and also kidnapped her in the last one month.
Speaking in fluent English that has little traces of her Hausa tongue, Audu, a Kano State indigene who was born and bred in Lagos, told our correspondent that a young man named Mohammed, whose age she put between 23 and 25 once professed love to her and asked for her hand in marriage.
“I know Mohammed but I did not know much about his personal life. He is from Maiduguri in Borno State. We were friends and he always told me he wanted to marry me. But I always turned him down. We parted ways and I did not see him for a while. I had even forgotten about him,” Audu told our correspondent.
But if Audu had forgotten about Mohammed, obviously the flame of rejection still burn with excruciating pain in the heart of the young man who is said to live in either Lekki or Ikoyi.
On Wednesday, March 30, three days to Audu’s wedding, which was to take place on April 2, the unexpected happened.
Audu said, “I went down the street to buy something around 9pm (around her mother’s house) that day and while standing there, I saw a motorcycle approach with a passenger at the back.
I saw one of the two young men on the motorcycle holding a cup as they stopped beside me. I did not think much of it. I just thought he was holding a cup of tea.
“One of them then asked me if I was Fatima, I turned and said yes. He said, ‘Someone sent me to you.’ I asked him who and he did not answer, he just poured the content of the cup on me.
“But as he raised the cup to pour it, I quickly turned my face and the content poured on my arm. I thought he had poured hot tea on me. The worst I could think of was hot water.”
As Audu’s attackers fled on the bike, the young woman’s arm began to burn. Her first instinct was to race to the hospital.
“I did not know what it was but I started feeling the burns. It was when I got to the hospital that I realised that the man on the motorcycle had poured acid on me,” she said.
Despite Audu’s lucky escape from the attack that could have disfigured her forever, she still sustained some nasty burn injuries on her right arm.
After the attack, then some calls started coming in.
Audu said she started getting calls from someone who had sounded exactly like the young man who poured the acid on her.
Audu’s sister-in-law, who was holding her phone the day after the attack, told our correspondent that when she picked the call, the caller said, “Do you know who attacked you last night?” thinking that he was addressing Audu, the owner of the phone.
Audu who later heard the voice of the caller confirmed that it sounded the same with that of the young man who had attacked her.
“The caller said that the attack was just the beginning. I got married as scheduled but after the wedding, the calls continued.
The same caller continued to call with anonymous numbers, threatening me for marrying my husband.
“He said he would come for me and kill me. Then on Monday April 25, I got a call from another anonymous caller, this time it was not from the voice I recognised.
The person said he was my husband’s relation; he said he had been trying to call my husband but his number was not going through. The caller said two of them were on their way to our house to visit us.
“I called my husband who was away at work at the time but his number did not go through truly. I then called my own family and they said if the callers actually said they were my husband’s relations, I should welcome them and entertain them.”
Unfortunately for Audu, she let the strangers in into her new home and as she set water and refreshment before them, one of them brought out a knife and a lighter and told her to cooperate.
They then informed her that someone had sent them to bring her. The strangers said they had been instructed to kill her if she raised the alarm.
Shaking with fright, Audu followed the men into a waiting white Golf car they parked outside.
Audu said, “They took me to Ikeja. I remember seeing the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. We went past it and turned left into a street, where they kept me in an uncompleted building around 7pm that day.
“They said they would kill me there and I began to beg them. But they said the man who sent them would come soon. About one hour later, the man came. It was Mohammed.”
According to the young woman, she could not believe her eyes that Mohammed had been the one behind the attack all along.
She said she began to beg him but he said the only thing that could save her from death was to leave her husband.
“He gave me my phone that they had collected earlier. I was told to call my family and apologise for my intention to leave my husband. I called my brother but while I was speaking with him and he was asking where I was, Mohammed snatched the phone.
I began to beg him again and finally pleaded with him that I would do as he wished. I told him I would leave my husband,” she said.
Audu said Mohammed and his goons later left her alone in the room and told her they were watching her. They then dared her to raise the alarm, threatening to cut her throat. She said they left her to sleep till morning.
The following day, with assurance that she would actually leave her husband, Audu got her phone back and was released.
Mohammed told her he would come after her if she told anybody his identity or if she failed to leave her husband.
She would later call one of her siblings who came to pick her at Ikeja bus stop.
She said she still remembered the uncompleted building but not the name of the street.
According to her description, it is likely Audu was taken to an uncompleted building in GRA Ikeja.
The police at the Abbatoir Division, Agege, where the case was reported said they would be visiting the location described by Audu on Friday as part of the investigation to track down Mohammed and his cohorts.
Nobody could really tell our correspondent what the suspect does for a living.
All Audu could offer was his description as a slim, dark young man of about five feet eight inches height. She said he has no tribal marks.
At the moment, she is living in fear of the unknown, unable to go back to her husband’s house in Oko-Oba Agege, where she was kidnapped.