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?”
7 Thoughts About Osinachi’s Death
1. People are quick to quote that God hates divorce, but God doesn’t love an abusive marriage either. God’s plan was never for marriage to be loveless, evil and toxic. God hates abuse. He hates any marriage that doesn’t typify His love!
— Solomon Buchi (@Solomon_Buchi) April 10, 2022
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.