The wedding ceremony between a girl said to be aged 4 and a 54-year-old man in Akeddei community in Sagbama Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, has sparked outrage.
Child Rights Advocacy groups in Bayelsa State, on Thursday, Dec. 28, kicked against the traditional wedding between the minor and a middle-aged man.
The Child Rights advocacy groups, including the Do Foundation, described the marriage as illegal, criminal and against the Constitution and the Child Rights Act.
The wedding between the child and the 54-year-old man, identified as Elder Akpos, took place on Tuesday, Dec. 26, allegedly at the instance of the girl’s parents.
According to community sources, the girl claimed that the man was her husband who died mysteriously in their previous life and that over the years, she has been moving from place to place, to be birthed under different parents, searching for her former husband.
The source said, “The little bride said if she was not allowed to marry her husband, she would have no other business in the Akeddei community, and that she was going to die peacefully and go her way.”
“To avoid losing the girl to death, the people of Akeddei decided to organize a glamorous wedding ceremony to mark the union of the two previous life lovers.”
One of the Child Rights Advocacy groups, the Do Foundation, in a statement signed by Elvis Mannie Esq. Chairperson, DO FOUNDATION Bayelsa State, confirmed the development, insisting that the foundation has launched an investigation into the development with the hope of saving the child.
According to Elvis Mannie, in his official statement, “The Foundation described the said child marriage as horrendous and despicable, and also a criminal activity, capable of retarding the giant strides made by the government and people of Bayelsa State in the area of protection of child rights”
He noted that the Child’s Rights Law was domesticated in 2016 and is still in force in Bayelsa State, “This law criminalizes child marriages and child betrothals on pain of imprisonment and heavy fines.”
The Foundation called on the Government of Bayelsa State, the Gender Response Initiative Team and all stakeholders in the Gender Response system, including the security agencies to launch a thorough investigation into this unfortunate incident, with a view to the protection of the child from sexual exploitation and the arrest and prosecution of all persons found culpable in this despicable event.