An Islamic cleric in Odo State was on Friday, May 22, asked by a court to return a 16-year-old girl to her parents after he forced her into marrying him, thus becoming his ninth wife.
The Islamic cleric, Alhaji Yusuf Lateef, was ordered by the Family Court based in Akure, the state capital, to return the secondary school student to her parents after he was dragged to court by the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Justice Aderemi Adegoroye of the court warned the cleric against child abuse, asking him to stay away from her henceforth.
The court also told the parents of the teenager to give proper care and education to the girl while warning them not marry her off against her will.
Reports said Alhaji Lateef approached the parents of the girl who was 15 years in 2019 and sought her hand in marriage in and eventually married the young girl as his ninth wife.
The teenager was said to have kicked against the union but she was said to have been threatened by her parents to accept the proposal and a day was fixed for the marriage.
The teenager, however, fled her parents home in Ore on the day fixed for the marriage with support from her brother to Akure, the state capital, where she approached the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development where she was sheltered and legal works began to stop the marriage.
The ministry eventually arraigned the parents of the girl and Alhaji Lateef at the Family Court for breaching the 2007 Ondo State Child Rights Law.
After hearing from the defendants, the court ruled that the girl be returned to her parents and Alhaji Lateef be made to sign an undertaking to stay away from her as well as ensure no harm comes her way.
Ondo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Titilola Adeyemi, said it was victory for children in the state, adding that “we are excited the matter has gone that way.
“That 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.”
Speaking with Tribune Online after the judgement, the girl said she intended to further her education as well as be a good woman in the future.
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