Like other nationalities in Nigeria, the Idoma people of Benue State frown at women who commit adultery. This is because it is traditional for women in the area not to indulge in adultery. In fact, adultery involving women in Idoma land has many negative consequences ranging from inexplicable ailments in the family to the death of the children or the husband.
Among the Otukpo people, for instance, the Alekwu, the spirits of the ancestors which are worshipped by the people are often said not to be happy whenever a woman commits adultery. Most often, even when the woman is not known to have done it, the anger of the Alekwu which manifests through some of the negative consequences listed above raises questions on the minds of the people in the community.
Whenever such things occur, that is, when people begin to die mysteriously, traditional soothsayers and diviners are consulted after which the woman in question would be tasked to disclose her secret sexual activities with men other than her husband.
If she discloses to the people, she would be asked to perform certain rites which will prevent anything untoward from befalling the family but if she fails to disclose, the consequences are always fatal.
There was a particular woman whose adulterous activities in the 70s led to the death of two of her children in one day in one of the leading villages in Otukpo. Even when she was informed of the consequences of what she was doing, she was said to have stuck to her guns. At the end of the day, she lost her children, a male and a female on the same day.
The tradition, however, permits the man to cohabit with other women for the purpose of procreation. This, the gods have nothing against, insofar as the women the man is cohabiting with are not married. In fact, just like adulterous women, negative fate also awaits their male counterparts that sleep with married women.
In fact, in those good old days of yore, it was a thing of pride for a man to be married to more than one wife and still command a chain of concubines. These concubines, like the wives bear children for the man. Then, great men were known by the number of their children. It is not like now where people bear only few because then, “the God that parted the lips knows what to put into it.”
Mr David Okoh, a public affairs analyst based in Otukpo who spoke with Friday Magazine on phone agreed that amarried women who indulge in such acts most often lose their children to death or are bitten by mysterious snakes from where they are forced to confess their sexual escapades as they face death in the face.
“Some of these women who indulge in adultery are conscious of the consequences of their action because they have witnessed or heard the story of what befell those that did similar things but because of their recklessness they still go ahead to do it,” Okoh stressed.
Although it is believed that no man would consciously allow his wife to sleep with another man, some married men who suffer from inexplicable ailments or even die mysteriously in the area are often accused of having knowledge of their wives escapades.
“Some of these men as you see them, they are afraid of their wives. They are afraid that their wives will divorce them if they frown at certain suspicious moves they make with other men, that is why some of them die prematurely,” said Ocheinu Adah, a resident of Ibadan Street, Makurdi.
Adah, who expressed worry at the increasing wave of unfaithfulness among women in the society generally attributed it to the gradual erosion of indigenous traditional values as a result of the incursion of western civilization.
But Okoh said it is due to their recklessness. “Why should a woman still go to commit adultery when she knows that the repercussion will lead to public odium or even death?”
However, some women are said to be merely envious of their husbands who they say have unreserved access to women of their choice while they are perpetually restricted to their homes waiting for the same man to come and make love to them.
This thinking has caused some of the women, especially the educated ones to embark on indiscriminate sexual activities with other men as they say what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander.
Some others who indulge in adultery do so out of poverty. This group of women find life difficult because their husbands who may have been the bread winner have lost their jobs or business and therefore consider sleeping with other men outside their matrimonial home to make ends meet as the next option.
On his part, retired Major Samuel Enokela Ukwenya, leader of the Vigilante in Otukpo, said married women who still commit adultery conscious of the repercussion may have gotten used to such tradition from their homes before they married and as such find it normal to indulge in it.
“You see, the tradition is being observed but what do you do about a woman who is used to this kind of thing, I mean, seeing her mother or sisters indulging in it before she got married, she will find it difficult to break from it,” Ukwenya maintained.
Ukwenya who agrees that the husband of a woman who commits adultery could be adversely affected if he is aware of her unfaithfulness and goes ahead to eat her food of anything brought into her matrimonial home, called for a achange since such attitude remains an aberration in Idoma land.