ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- A child rights advocacy group, DO Foundation, on Thursday, kicked against the December 26 marriage between a four-year-old and a 54-year-old man at Akeddei community in Sagbama LGA Area of Bayelsa.
The marriage was allegedly consummated at the instance of the child’s parents. The 54-year-old man was identified as Elder Akpos.
The group described the marriage as illegal, criminal and a child marriage, which is against the Constitution and the Child Rights Act.
In a statement signed by its chairwoman, Elvis Mannie, the group condemned child marriage as horrendous, despicable, and a criminal activity.
According to the civil society group, the act is capable of retarding the giant strides made by the government and people of Bayelsa in the area of protection of child rights.
It noted that the Child Rights Law was domesticated in the state in 2016 and is still in force in Bayelsa.
“This law criminalises child marriages and child betrothals, prescribing various terms of imprisonment and heavy fines,” it noted.
The foundation called on the Bayelsa government, the Gender Response Initiative Team and all stakeholders in the gender response system to immediately swing into action to respond appropriately.
It urged the security agencies to launch a thorough investigation into the incident, with a view to the protection of the child from sexual exploitation.
The group also demanded the arrest and prosecution of all persons culpable in the act.
The foundation has launched an investigation into the development to save the child from the obnoxious situation.
According to a source who did not wish to be named for fear of penalty for desecrating traditions, the girl’s parents claimed that Mr Akpos was her husband in their previous life.
Community sources, the girl asserted that the man was her husband, who died mysteriously in their previous life, and the child narrated that over the years, she had been moving from place to place, to be given birth to by different parents, searching for her former husband.
“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 own way.
“In order to avoid losing the girl to death, the people of Akeddei decided to organise a glamorous wedding ceremony to mark the union of the two previous life lovers,” said the source.