In what has been described as a national shame, the Nigerian High Commissioner in Kenya and the Seychelles, Dr. Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe, is currently enmeshed in a domestic violence scandal, the Nairobi Star of Kenya has reported.
His wife, Mrs. Tess Iyi Wigwe, has petitioned the Kenyan police urging them to promptly arrest the diplomat before he beats her to death.
In a letter she sent to Mr. Mathew Iteere, the Commissioner of Police, the distraught wife accused her husband of battering her and causing her serious bodily harm which has sent her to hospital many times, often between life and death.
She narrated, through her lawyer, Judy Thongori, that after the battery of 11 May 2011 which followed a minor argument with the husband, she sustained injuries on the face, neck, fingers and spinal cord and was only rescued by her 20-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter who rushed her to hospital while bleeding profusely.
She said that she was admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital on 11 May, operated on and discharged on Sunday, 15 May.
â€œI am still living in the ambassadorâ€™s residence. I still feel a lot of pain from the injuries despite the ongoing medications,â€ she said, adding that she had been advised by her doctors to be careful as the injuries to her lower back might lead to paralysis.
Tess is a lawyer with dual British and Nigerian citizenships. She said that she had suffered previous beatings by her husband during their long marriage. The couple has five children â€” four boys and a girl aged between 32 and 20 years. They have five grandchildren.
In 1999, she said, she left her husband because he battered her regularly and chased other women. She then proceeded to the UK where she got a job. She claimed that her husband had two traditional marriages with two women during their separation.
In 2008, she said, he begged her to come back and join him when he got his posting to Nairobi. â€œI thought he had changed his ways and I was prevailed upon by the community to join him,â€ she said.
Wigwe reported to his new station in May 2008 but Tess only joined him months later because she had to get a leave of absence from her employer in the UK.
Tess said he beat up her in October that year when she questioned him about bringing strange women to their matrimonial home.
She said she kept the matter quiet but the relationship has become so bad that they have reached a point where he communicates with her by writing and leaving her notes.
â€œThis time, he left a note about his dinner. I told him his dinner was ready and asked him not to be asking for dinner to be prepared if he was not going to eat it. He grabbed me by the hand and when l tried to pull away, he hurled me against the wall before he started punching me,â€ she said.
Tess said she has opted to come out and explain her situation to show that domestic violence cuts across cultures, education and social standing. â€œI cannot keep quiet. I have kept quiet long enough,â€ Tess said.
The embattled diplomat, who is also the permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Environmental Programme and the UN Habitat in Nairobi, has however, denied the allegations.
â€œI am shocked about her actions. They have not notified me of any plot against me. I have just arrived from a foreign trip,â€ he told the newspaper.
In a short biography Wigwe is described as a devoted lover of music of all kinds and genre ranging from Classical to New Age.
â€œHe enjoys singing and dancing, is an avid reader, writer of short poems, an art and opera lover with other interests including bird and aircraft- watchingâ€.
Tessâ€™ lawyer said they would demand that Wigweâ€™s diplomatic immunity be lifted so that he could be prosecuted.
â€œThough Dr Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe is a diplomat, we are of the considered view that any diplomatic immunity that he enjoys is subject to him upholding and respecting the fundamental rights of others as enshrined in the Constitution,â€ Thongori said in her letter to Iteere citing the rights which include freedom from torture, freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment.
Thongori told the Commissioner that her client wants her husband prosecuted. â€œWe have instructions to demand the immediate prosecution of the husband in accordance with the law.â€
No arrest can be made at the High Commission residence or offices of the embassy as they are considered the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.