Bizarre Marriage Culture in Obanliku Exposed by Channels TV’s Reporter
Imani Odey, a reporter of Channels Televlsion, has exposed a bizarre culture known as “the money marriage” currently practiced in Becheve, Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State. She made the exposure in a report posted on her Facebook timeline yesterday.
The Facebook post is an outcome of an investigative story she undertook for “Eye Witness Report”, a program of Channels Television which was aired last week.
According to her, the culture of “money marriage” is as old as tradition itself and it is “carried out without the consent of the girl who in most cases, is sold out to clear debts owed by a family relation even before her birth.”
Despite the aged history of that tradition in Becheve, Imani’s report on Channels Television is the first major investigative story on it.
Here is her report on that journalistic assignment, as posted on her Facebook timeline:
“My journey towards uncovering the ‘Money Marriage Practice’ which initially, was like mere propaganda to me is undoubtedly, one of my best investigative trips in my practice as a journalist thus far.
‘Money Marriage’ is an old traditional practice synonymous with the Becheve tribes in Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State, South South Nigeria where an elderly man buys a little girl for a wife.
I pride myself a lot in community reports because it gives one the opportunity to interface with the grassroots and so, when I heard of the Money Woman, ‘Money Marriage’ Culture in passing, I said to myself that I must do all it takes to ensure that it is brought to Limelight.
Oh, thanks to the award winning TV station, Channels Television, for the Platform and @Chris Illems for adding panache to telling the story as real as it is.
I needed a guard to Obanliku considering the fact that I am not too used to the area and@ Jonathan Abang Ugbal who is used to the area immediately came to mind.
Jonathan Ugbal is a young investigative journalist.
Obanliku Local Government Area is situated in Northern Cross River State, approximately eight hours drive from Calabar, the State Capital.
After few minutes trying to convince him on the need to please follow me down, I got my way and his response was, ‘mummy Zoe, anything for you. Agreed, I will Journey with you’.
Next was my camera guy, and ‘@ Victor Edet, please prepare your stuffs, we are heading for a community report up North, 6am tomorrow’ and his immediate response was, ‘Ok, Ima’.
We set out for the trip at 6am the following morning. It was smooth from Calabar to Ogoja, Ogoja to Obudu and Obudu to Obanliku. We needed to stop by to meet someone whom the word, HERO best suits.
After several attempts trying to locate this Hero by name, Pastor Richards Chybuikem Akonam of Faith House Missions, we got him finally.
Pastor Richards, is a career Missionary who has spent several years doing passionate work and a strong advocate against the ‘Money Marriage’ culture.
Without pre-informing him of our coming, (I tried reaching him anyway but couldn’t because of bad network), this selfless man immediately agreed to lead us to Becheve where many girls have been held captive as a result of the ‘Money Marriage’ Practice and there we went.
Quite shocking but true, is the traditional practice presently ongoing in a remote part of Cross River State South South Nigeria where, young girls are being sold out for a kind of marriage known as, ‘The ‘Money Marriage’ and the victim, ‘Money Woman’.
The practice which is as old as tradition itself is carried out without the consent of the girl who in most cases, is sold out to clear debts owed by a family relation even before her birth.
Seventeen tribes make up Becheve and in our quest to find out how true the practice of the money marriage is, we set out on an inquiry mission and true to it, the practice is still in existence even in this twenty first century.
Accessing communities in Becheve is a difficult one due to the terrain which is mountainous in nature and to access a compound, you’re either decending or ascending.
Our journey started in earnest through thick vegetation, climbing and descending many hills and valleys with breath taking sites, as we journeyed through, for as high as 1576 meters above sea level.
At each of the communities visited, victims of the ‘Money Marriage’ through the help of the missionary were quick to share with Channels Television their experiences as ‘Money Women’ or ‘Money wives’.
The ‘Money Woman’ practice according to tribes in Becheve is a status thing and a show of pride as there is virtually no family in Becheve that is not without a ‘Money Woman’.
The victim is most times used to settle debts owed by her relatives and when her husband dies, his next-of-kin marries her and if the girl-wife dies without giving birth to children, her parents are obligated to bring a replacement in accordance with customary demands.
In cases where a money woman gets pregnant by another man, the husband hold claims of the children and if the woman eventually gives birth to a baby girl, she is in turn sold out to a willing buyer without her consent.
‘Money Wives’ are not allowed the right to education and in every sale, the girl’s opinion is not sought. She is the bread winner.
Victims of this marriage are sold for as low as ten thousand naira, few goats and pigs, tubers of yam, depending on the man’s bargain power.
The buyer determines what he does with the ‘Money Woman’ even if he uses her for ritual purposes.
Once a girl is sold out for Money Marriage, she is considered dead by her own immediate family and warned never to return back irrespective of how she is being treated by her husband or his relatives.
This is the story of the travail of the ‘Money Woman’ crying out for the abolishing of the Money Marriage practice, just as Mary Slessor abolished the killing of twins.
Special thanks to God Almighty, for seeing us through this fact finding Journey .
@ChannelsTV, for being a part of this advocacy.
@Richards Akonam for being selfless and true to this cause.
My family got worried when i couldn’t be reached for 24hours.
Thanks to @My super camera guy, Victor Edet who shot the Video exactly how I wanted it,
@Jonathan Ugbal for agreeing on Journeying with me to further make public this Culture.
Feature image: Channels Television