A magistrate court in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has stopped an Islamic cleric, Yusuf Lateef, from marrying a 16-year-old girl (name withheld) as his ninth wife.
The defendant had reportedly connived with the girl’s parents to marry their daughter in 2019 but the girl had refused. She was only 15 then.
The parents had allegedly forced her to accept the proposal and a day was fixed for the marriage.
However, the girl had other plans. She fled her parent’s home in Odigbo Local Government Area on the day fixed for the wedding, with the support of her brother, who live in Akure.
The teenager then reported the matter at the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, where she was reportedly sheltered for some days.
Subsequently, those in charge there approached the family court in Akure and Lateef and the girl’s parents were arraigned for breaching the part three of the 2007 Ondo State Child Rights Law.
After hearing from both parties, Magistrate Aderemi Adegoroye, ordered that the girl be returned to her parents and Lateef be made to sign an undertaking to stay away from her.
The court further ruled that the girl’s family must ensure her proper care and education.
Ondo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Titilola Adeyemi, described the judgment as a victory for children in the state.
She said, ” This will be a warning to everybody that it is ‘no’ to child marriage in Ondo State. Child marriage is denying a child her future. We must make sure we work for the child to realise her future.”