A child rights advocacy group in Bayelsa, DO Foundation, on Thursday, kicked against a traditional marriage of 26th of December between a four-year-old girl and a 54-year-old man at Akeddei community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
The foundation, in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Yenagoa, described the marriage as illegal, criminal, and a child marriage which is against the constitution and the Child Rights Act.
The statement was signed by the foundation’s chairperson, Mr Elvis Mannie.
The foundation 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.
The foundation noted that the Child’s Right 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,” the foundation noted.
The foundation called on the state 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 found culpable in this despicable act.
The foundation has launched an investigation into the development aimed at saving the child from the obnoxious situation.
NAN learnt that the marriage between the four-year-old ‘bride’ and the 54-year-old man, simply identified as Elder Akpos, was at the instance of the girl’s parents.
A 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.”