Christians Speak Out After Alleged Abuse & Death of Nigerian Gospel Singer

By Sarah Einselen
Osinachi
Osinachi Nwachukwu died Friday in a hospital, reportedly from throat cancer. But authorities later arrested her husband, Peter Nwachukwu, after multiple people accused him of abusing her and causing her death. (Photo via Instagram)

After Nigerian police arrested the husband of Osinachi, a beloved Igbo gospel singer, some pastors and other Christian leaders are speaking out against spousal abuse.

Osinachi Nwachukwu, featured in the popular gospel song “Ekwueme,” died Friday in a hospital, the BBC reported. She reportedly had throat cancer. But authorities later arrested her husband, Peter Nwachukwu, after the gospel singer’s family and close associates accused him of abusing her and causing her death.

Osinachi’s sister told Nigerian news media that the gospel singer died from injuries sustained when her husband kicked her. The women’s mother also said the singer was subjected to constant beatings and verbal assaults.

Peter Nwachukwu has denied responsibility for his wife’s death.

Reports have described Peter Nwachukwu as a pastor and gospel minister, but it’s unclear where he ministered. Dunamis International Gospel Centre, where Osinachi was employed as lead singer, reportedly denied that her husband was on staff there.

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Family and colleagues have told Nigerian news outlets that Peter Nwachukwu forced the couple’s four children to keep silent about the alleged abuse and kept anyone out of the home that would have intervened.

Osinachi’s mother told BBC Igbo that the gospel singer had once separated from her husband for over a year. The singer returned when her husband and some pastors begged her to, local media reported the mother saying.

Paul Enenche, senior pastor at Dunamis, said the church had zero tolerance for abuse in a video released Wednesday on Facebook.

He denied knowing anything about the alleged abuse of Osinachi. But after hearing about the allegations, he said, he asked Osinachi’s sister, also a singer, and other family members and close colleagues about the alleged abuse.

They told him they knew of instances of abuse but that the singer had begged them not to report it.

Enenche said he asked the sister, “If you knew, why didn’t you let us know? And the twin sister said, (Osinachi) always begged her, ‘Please don’t let the church know. Don’t tell the pastor. Please, the man will change. Just pray for us—that the man will change.’ And that continued to happen.”

Fellow Nigerian gospel singer Nathaniel Bassey lamented Osinachi’s death on Instagram, saying her “voice thundered and reverberated powerfully in worship.” He also wrote, “Marriage is good and Honourable. But also not by force.”

Writer and activist Solomon Buchi stated that Christians often note what God says in the Bible about divorce, “but God doesn’t love an abusive marriage either.”

“I’ve seen takes and opinions from religious folks and leaders saying she should have left,” he wrote on Twitter. “But question? How do we treat divorcees in the Nigerian Christian community? They are often seen as sinners and outcasts. How then do we think people in abusive marriages would leave?”

Nigerian pastors need to promote “a posture of zero tolerance for abuse,” according to missionary Julius Esunge of Hope Outreach International Ministries.

“Marriage is not a highway to martyrdom,” Esunge wrote on social media.

He added, “Given the complex nature of abuse, the more leaders promote a culture of zero tolerance for it, with compassionate care for victims, and holistic ministry for abusers, the easier it may be for victims and/or abusers to speak up/fess up and seek help.”

He said leaders should “consider facilitating separation in hopes of repentance, and restoration.” He also said a spouse of an unrepentant abuser should ask for pastoral guidance about divorce and “search the scriptures for when God allows it (if at all He does).”

Billionaire business owner and philanthropist Folorunso Alakija was among those mourning Osinachi’s death. In a Facebook post, she urged spouses in abusive relationships to take steps to improve the relationship, including going to counseling and calling police.

But “If all else fails,” she added, “like the Bible says in Ephesians 6 vs 13 … having done all, to stand. Speak out, pack your bags, and LEG IT!”

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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4 thoughts on “Christians Speak Out After Alleged Abuse & Death of Nigerian Gospel Singer”

  1. Mark Gunderson

    This is so sad. She seemed like such a beautiful person.

    When we pray for miraculous healing it is okay if God uses medicine. When we pray for someone’s change of heart it is okay if God uses the boundaries we set for our own protection.

  2. “… and holistic ministry for abusers…

    …a spouse of an unrepentant abuser should ask for pastoral guidance about divorce and “search the scriptures for when God allows it (if at all He does).”–Julius Esunge
    —————————

    Notes to Julius Esunge:

    1. reporting to police, criminal charges, and not seeking to influence the judge for leniency are the first steps for pastor in holistic ministry for abusers.

    a) resist the urge to turn the perpetrator into a redemption project (which would be validating
    and glamorous for the pastor). the victim rightfully deserves the weight of your focus,

    2. we both know that the scriptures mention nothing about abuse in marriage, so let’s clear that up right away.

    To maintain a literal reading of scripture that is literally binding, the only ways to come up with a theology of divorce due to domestic abuse is through conjecture and general finagling.

    At this point, one must decide which is more important: people or principle? a human life or a list of rules?

    I think it’s safe to say Jesus would choose the the former. No conjecture or finagling needed there.

  3. Osinachi’s story echoes many I’ve read on Spiritual Abuse blogs here in the States. Biblical Manhood excusing domination games and abuse, Woman Submit, Gawd H8S Divorce, Salvation By Marriage Alone attitude.

    FYI: I’m pretty sure her husband’s name “Nwachukwu” means “Child of God”; I remember running across the name years ago. I think it’s from Ibo (Igbo?), the language of Nigeria’s largest Christian tribe.

    1. Cynthia Wright

      We had a Nigerian priest in Tulsa. The staid, Midwestern congregation was shocked the first time he sang the Our Father in Ibo (Igbo), but they quickly adjusted and we all loved him. Nigerian ladies come to Mass in vibrantly-colored, sequinned satin gowns and big turbans.

      There’s a big African Catholic presence in the Midwest: Nigerians and Tanzanians and Cameroonians. If one African priest gets established in a diocese, additional seminarians will come, just as happened with Irish, Italians, etc., in the past.

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