THE wife of the Nigerian High Commissioner has written the Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere asking him to arrest the diplomat for assaulting her. Mrs Tess Iyi Wigwe accuses her husband Chief Dr Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe of causing her serious bodily harm.
Wigwe is the High Commissioner to Kenya and the Seychelles. He is also the permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Environmental Programme and the UN Habitat in Nairobi.
In a short biography Wigwe is described as a devoted lover of music of all kinds and genre ranging from Classical to New Age. “He enjoys singing and dancing, is an avid reader, writer of short poems, an art and opera lover with other interests including bird and aircraft- watching”.
Yesterday Wigwe denied battering his wife. He expressed shock that the police had been asked to arrest him. “I am shocked about her actions. They have not notified me of any plot against me. I have just arrived from a foreign trip,” he told the Star.
A letter from lawyer Judy Thongori to Iteere dated Monday (May 23) says Tess sustained injuries on the face, neck, fingers and spine after a quarrel which resulted in the beating on May 11.
In an exclusive interview with the Star yesterday, Tess said she was rescued by her 20-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter who rushed her to hospital while bleeding profusely.
The diplomat’s wife said she was admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, on May 11, operated on and discharged on Sunday, May 15. “I am still living in the ambassador’s residence. I still feel a lot of pain from the injuries despite the ongoing medications,” 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, herself a lawyer with dual British and Nigerian citizenships, said 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.
Tess said she had in 1999 left her husband due to his womanising and frequent beatings and went to live in the UK where she got a job. She claimed that he had two traditional marriages with two women during their separation.
Tess said he pleaded with her to join him when he got his posting to Nairobi in 2008. “I thought he had changed his ways and l was prevailed upon by the community to join him,” she told the Star.
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. “This 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,” 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. “I cannot keep quiet. I have kept quiet long enough,” Tess said.
From today Wigwe is expected to play host to a four-day Nollywood roadshow and fair organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, the Nigerian Guild of Actors and the Nigerian High Commission which is expected to culminate in a gala dinner at the Safari Park Hotel on Sunday night.
Yesterday lawyer Thongori who is acting on behalf of Tess said they would demand that Wigwe’s diplomatic immunity be lifted so that he could be prosecuted. “Though 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,” 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. “We have instructions to demand the immediate prosecution of the husband in accordance with the law,” lawyer Thongori says in the letter.
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.