In this revealing interview Mercy Aigbe granted Broadway TV, she opens up on the crisis that has now engulfed her marriage to Mr. Lanre Gentry, and other related issues
Few weeks ago, you initially said that your husband didn’t beat you but you later came out to say that he beat you regularly. What do you want us to believe?
In the midst of all this crisis, I have never granted any interview and I have never for once come out to say my husband didn’t beat me. It was in 2013 that I had an interview and it was to address the news that went viral then that my husband beat me and we had to record a video at that time. He has consistently beaten me.
Why did you stay in spite of the constant battering?
I stayed because I wanted a home. Besides, I loved him and whenever he beat me, he would beg and get family and friends to plead with me. He always promised to change but he never did. I prayed, fasted and hoped that he would change but he never did. My husband is a violent person and whenever he gets angry, he gets physical so it is not just about me. He has actually beaten a maid of mine, Oluchi, before. I was out of the country when this happened and the girl got the police to arrest him. That is the kind of person he is. Aside the fact that I wanted a home, I stayed because of my children. I didn’t want to be moving from one man to the other and a lot of people look up to me as a role model. They respected me because I was married and I didn’t want to disappoint a lot of people. Some people would probably say I am a fool to have endured everything but God sees my heart that I just wanted a home. A lot of people think that actors do not want to stay married but it wasn’t easy for me to walk away.
What did you do after the incident and how brutal was the beating?
After it happened, I met with my husband’s younger brother and told him that my husband would just kill me one day. He is not ready to get help or go for therapy to manage his anger problem. I told him that the last incident was brutal and Lanre almost killed me. I actually thought I was going to die. I also told him that I did not feel safe anymore. For a very long time, I had been living in fear in that house because any little argument led to me being beaten up by my husband, even in front of my children, domestic staff and neighbours. I moved out because I was finally fed up. I was scared for my life because a lot of people have died in the process of being beaten up by their husbands. I just wanted to feel safe and that was why I moved out. Four weeks have passed after the incident, and I am still coughing blood.
Why did you take him to court?
A day before Easter Sunday, I discovered that my husband was sleeping with a girl who was like a sister to me. I was bitter, especially since that wasn’t the first time of such happening. My husband has slept with a lot of my personal assistants and he has done a lot of things that I endured. I was bitter because he promised me he was never going to do it again, so we had an argument but at a point, I had to keep quiet because I didn’t want him to get physical. On Sunday, I cooked and he and the children ate. I reminded him I was going for a burial which I had informed him about prior to that day. At first, he said that I was supposed to stay home with my kids and I said I had promised I was going to attend and that if he didn’t mind, we could go together since I did not plan on staying there for long. He said no problem and that I could go for the party. I went to my designer, Luminee’s place to dress up in case my outfit needed any adjustment. I was there with my make-up artist, Ayomide, and another colleague. We got to the party late and by the time we got there, the party was about rounding off and we spent just a little time there before we returned to Luminee’s place. At a point, my husband telephoned me and asked me to pick him up at his office on my way home. I told him to leave me alone, that I was not going to come. I was still angry, having discovered that he was sleeping with the girl I mentioned earlier. After I ended the call, he telephoned me again and asked where I was and that I needed to pick him up. I told him I was at Luminee’s place and then, he started shouting that I should pick him up from the office. I knew he was angry and I told him that I would come to pick him. I told Luminee I had to go, because my husband was beginning to get angry and if he gets angry, he would most likely beat me up. At that point, Luminee walked me to the door. When we got to the door, I heard a car park. I began to panic and I told Luminee that I was sure that was my husband. At that point, he had gotten to the door and immediately I got to the door, Lanre beat me mercilessly. He kept punching me, slapping me and hitting my head on the wall. Everyone saw what happened and I kept begging him. He said he wanted to kill me, that he was going to damage my face so people would no longer call me for jobs. He acted like someone who was possessed. At a point, I had to tell him in Yoruba that “Lanre, mo ma bimo fun e, kini mo se?” (Lanre I have a child for you, what is my offence?) At that point, blood was gushing out of my nose, yet he kept beating me. I begged Luminee and Ayomide to take me to the hospital but when Luminee helped me into the car, Lanre told them that if he saw any of them in his car, he would beat them. When I heard this, I stumbled out of the car. He came to me, matched my face and continued beating me. I told Luminee to get the security men at the gate or else he was going to kill me. She ran to call the security men and when they arrived, they walked Lanre out of the estate. Ayomide called her husband and Luminee called my husband’s friend and when they came, they took me to Solid Rock Hospital in Ojodu. He followed us to the hospital and he kept saying that he was going to kill me
What did the doctors say?
At the hospital, the doctor gave me injections and put me on drip. They stuffed my nose with cotton wool to stop the blood from coming out. The following day which was a Monday, Ayomide and her husband were with me at the hospital and I was there till about eight o’clock. I removed the drip myself because I felt I needed to report the case to the police. I told Luminee to take me to the police station and she took me to Area F where I made the report. Immediately I made the report, I met the area commander and I met with one of the human rights representatives at the same station. I wrote a petition and gave my husband’s number to the Area Commander who tried to reach him but couldn’t. She then asked the police officer in charge of the case to go with me to invite him to the police station. We went to his hotel at Oregun and we didn’t meet him but met his two brothers. The officer, ASP Amaka telephoned him and he said he was in Ibadan. I knew he was lying because he could not have travelled so soon. We returned to the station and I was given a note to go to the general hospital to treat myself. I went there and saw a doctor at the Surgical and Emergency Department of the hospital where they gave me drip, injection and antibiotics to stop the blood. He gave me another note to go to St. Solomon Health Care Ltd to undergo some scans so they can determine why I was bleeding and if I had any internal injury. I did series of tests from Brain CT scan, Chest scan and more.
It is being alleged that you also cheated on your husband?
I have never cheated on Lanre and he knows it. That is even the most painful part of all these. Instead of showing remorse for what he did to me, he went online, started granting interviews and fabricating hideous lies just to tarnish my image. He said I cheated on him several times when I know that I never cheated on him. He came up with those lies so as to get sympathy and justify what he did. That was why I told him to provide proof that I cheated on him. It is not enough to allege that I cheated, he should come out with proof. He said a lot of damaging things and when I read those things online, I was completely broken. I never knew I was married to my enemy because only my enemy can do that to me. He lied that I am mentally unstable and I do not take care of my parents. He said that he has caught me with numerous men, yet he doesn’t have a single evidence. Even when I was single, I never had any scandal, so why would he now say that I cheated on him with different men and none of these relationships was leaked to the public? Is it possible for someone like me to cheat on my husband repeatedly and I was never caught in the act?
If you are reading this Lanre, your conscience will judge you. A lot of people think I married you because of your money but they do not know the true story. I read a lot of things online and I just shake my head because only God knows the truth. I gave you my money many times. Two months ago, I gave you N260, 000 to buy a travel ticket for your sick daughter who was abroad. And that is just one of the many times I had given you my money. People very close to us know that you have never given me money to even shoot a movie. All the movies I have shot was with my money and I have had to work hard for it. I had my son through caesarean section and I was back on set less than 40 days after I was delivered of a baby because I needed the money. I didn’t know someone who claimed to love me would go to the extent of trying to ruin me or my image. Lanre, you have always beaten me and everybody around us knew it. Three years ago, I took you to Area F police station where you signed an undertaking that you weren’t going to beat me again but since then, you have beaten me several times. I know people will call me a fool for staying that long and yes I do agree with them. I agree that I shouldn’t have endured for that long but I am just a woman who wanted to stay married. I did a series of interviews where I praised you because I didn’t want to wash my dirty linen in public. A lot of things that I did myself, I gave you the credit. I just couldn’t come out to say that my husband isn’t financially okay because I believe that a wise woman builds her home and I was ready to do just that
Your husband claimed that he didn’t grant any interview, what can you say about that?
He has been granting a lot of interviews since this issue started and he has told many lies. He said I am being influenced by some people but that is a lie. I know my husband very well and he lies a lot. I don’t know if that’s being disrespectful but my husband lies all the time. During the course of our relationship, he told me a lot of things which I later found out to be lies. Four years ago, my husband was in a cell for over seven months. I was in the house and I didn’t move anywhere. I suffered and was working back-to-back to take care of our children and pay their school fees. I kept it all to myself, so why would I now want to leave him? It is almost four weeks since the last incident and I still have a black eye. I am coughing out blood and he says it is make-up. If I had died, he would have lied so hard. Now, I can’t see well with my left eye because he broke the orbit and the doctors at the General Hospital said I have to undergo surgery as soon as possible. They even said that I shouldn’t do it here in Nigeria. According to the doctors, some of the eye muscles are trapped in the broken orbit and they have to do a surgery to release the muscles, otherwise I won’t be able to see properly. This is what a man who is supposed to be my husband and the father of my child did to me and he is not remorseful. Instead, he is spreading lies and has threatened to kill me if I leave him. Like he said, I am the one who has an image to protect and I am really going through a lot of pain.
What do you hope to achieve with the court case?
When this incident happened and I saw the way he was going about it, I went to the Domestic Violence Department in Lagos State and I met with the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Lola Akande. I also went to the office of the public defender where I met Mrs. Tope Salami and I explained everything that I do not feel safe with my kids. I feel like he is going to send some people to kill me. The Thursday after the incident, I went home to get some of my things and he sent three thugs to the house to prevent me from taking anything. One of them almost beat me up and I had to run to Ojodu Grammar School Police Station to get some police and they arrested the thugs he sent. A man who can go to that extent can do anything. I fear for my life and that of my children. The case is in court and it is not in my place to imprison. Moreso, I have a child for him. I just want him to realise the gravity of what he did to me.
What is next for you?
I don’t know. All I know is that I have to take care of myself because I still cough out blood and I have to undergo a surgery. I have to make sure that I am okay.
Prior to this incident, had he ever accused you of sleeping with other men?
Yes, he always accuses me of dating everybody. He has insecurity issues. If he sees anybody close to me, he would accuse me of dating the person. At some point in our marriage, I sat him down to discuss it because I was no longer comfortable with his assumptions. If I go out, he would accuse me. Even on set, he would question why I kissed an actor or why I allowed an actor to hold me. He knows my job and we never had an agreement that I would stop acting either before or after we got married. I had to ask him if I have ever given him any reason to doubt me. He is just plain insecure.
People believe you live above your means, could that also be part of the problem?
I don’t live above my means. I am content with the little that I have. My trip to Dubai was sponsored by Emirates Airline. Being a brand influencer, they had a package which they wanted me to help them put out there. I drive an Acura MDS. People close to me know that I am a hardworking woman.
He said you are mentally unstable, what can you say about that?
When I read it online, I was shocked. I still can’t comprehend why he fabricated such a lie. I don’t have any mental issue. My husband and everybody close to me are aware that I am mentally okay. Anybody that wants to investigate my mental health can do so. I am ready to subject myself to any test just to show that I am 100 per cent okay.