AMILOADED MEDIA HUB NEWS UPDATE
The Bayelsa Government has invited parents of a four-year-old girl and the 54-year-old man allegedly involved in a marriage in Akeddei community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the government’s intervention is coming on the heels of media reports of a Dec. 26 marriage between the ‘bride’ and a 54 years old.
The Bayelsa Government’s reaction is contained in a statement provided to NAN in Yenagoa on Saturday.
The statement is jointly signed by Dr. Dise Ogbise-Goddy, Chairman, Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT) Bayelsa and Mr Paniebi Jacob, Director, Child Development in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Children and Social Development.
The state government, which frowned at the development, also expressed concern over the “illegal marriage” based on tradition and customs, saying it was repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
According to the statement, the Ministry of Women, Children Affairs and Social Development and GRIT have acknowledged the receipt of a formal complaint from a child rights advocacy group, DO Foundation, on the controversial marriage.
Jacob, Ogbise-Goddy and the state Human Rights Commission, said the traditional ruler of Akeddei community honoured the government’s invitation and promised to produce the child, her parents, the groom, the youth leader and the chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC).
The statement noted that the Bayelsa Government did not support child marriage under any guise.
“That is why the state government did not hesitate to assent to the passage of the Bayelsa State Child Rights Law.
“We are taking steps to rescue the child from all the key actors in relation to this illegal ceremony that they tagged a ‘mere spiritual’ affair.
“The law is clear on issues of tradition and customs that are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and working with the Bayelsa State Police Command, we shall ensure incidents like this do not occur in the state again.
“On behalf of the governor of Bayelsa State, we express our gratitude to all the non-governmental organisations, including FIDA and DO Foundation, that have risen to the rescue of this innocent child.
“Bayelsa State is children-friendly and this case will be pursued to a logical conclusion.”
However, NAN learnt that the alleged marriage involving the man, simply identified as Elder Akpos, was at the instance of the girl’s parents.
According to a source, who pleaded anonymity for fear of penalty for desecrating traditions, the parents of the girl claim that the 54-year-old man was her husband in their previous life.
According to the community source, the girl claimed that the man was her husband who died mysteriously in their previous life.
The toddler has narrated that over the years, she has been moving from place to place, to be given birth to by 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 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 organise a glamorous wedding ceremony to mark the union of the two previous life lovers.”