54-Year Old Man Marries 4-Year Old Girl in Bayelsa, Nigeria

Outrage has greeted the news of the Christmas Day marriage ceremony between a 54-year old man and a little 4-year old girl. Some child rights advocacy groups in Bayelsa State have kicked against the Boxing Day traditional marriage between a four-year-old girl and a 54-year-old man in the Akeddei community in the Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.

The groups including the Do Foundation, described the marriage as illegal and criminal.

They noted that child marriage is against the Nigerian Constitution and the Child Rights Act.

It was gathered that the illegal marriage between the four-year-old girl and the 54-year-old man identified as Elder Akpos was at the instance of the girl’s parents, who claimed that the man was her husband in her past lives.

According to community sources, the girl claimed that the man was her husband who died mysteriously in his previous life and that over the years, she had been moving from place to place, to be birthed under different parents, searching for her former husband.

One of the sources said, “The little bride said if she was not allowed to marry her husband, she would have no other business in Akeddei community, and that she was going to die peacefully and go her way.

“In order 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.”

However, Do Foundation, in a statement signed by Elvis Mannie Esq., its Chairperson in Bayelsa State, confirmed the development. He said the foundation had launched an investigation into the development to save the child.

In the 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.”

It noted that the Child 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,” it said. 

The organisation called on the Government of Bayelsa State, the Gender Response Initiative Team and all stakeholders in the Gender Response system, including security agencies to launch a thorough investigation into the incident, to protect the child from sexual exploitation, and arrest and prosecute all “persons found culpable in this despicable event”.

ASP Musa Mohammed, the spokesperson for the state police command told SaharaReporters that he was not aware of such a union. He, however, promised to call the Divisional Police Officer in the area to investigate and get more information about it.

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