Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
A family court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has stopped an Islamic cleric, Yusuf Lateef, from marrying a 16-year-old girl.
Lateef is said to be married to eight wives even as he proposed to the teenager through her parent.
It was gathered that the defendant had approached the girl’s parents to marry their daughter in 2019 when she was 15-years-old but that the girl had refused his proposition and fled from Ore in Odigbo Local Government Area to Akure.
Her parents had allegedly forced her to accept the proposal and a day was fixed for the wedding but the girl, whose name was not disclosed, did not show up on the day.
The teenager was said to have reported the matter at the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
It was thereafter that the matter was charged to the Family Court in Akure where Lateef and the girl’s parents were arraigned for breaching the 2007 Ondo State Child Rights Law.
After hearing from both the defendants and the plaintiff, the court presided over by Magistrate Aderemi Adegoroye, ruled that the girl be returned to her parent and that Lateef be made to sign an undertaking to stay away from her.
The court also ordered the girl’s family to 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.
‘We are excited the matter has gone that way. That will be a warning to everybody. Underage marriage is denying a child her future. We must make sure we work for the child to realise her future,’ she said.