Dayo Johnson, Akure
AN Ondo state family Court in Akure has quashed a forced marriage of a 16 year old Secondary School girl to an Islamic Cleric with eight wives, Alhaji Yusuf Lateef.
Lateef, who is an Ore based cleric was to make the girl who was 15 last year as his ninth wife.
The three man panel led by Justice Aderemi Adegoroye ordered the return of the girl to her family for proper care and education and warned Lateef to stay away from her.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that Alhaji Lateef had approached the girl’s parents and sought her hand in marriage in 2019.
The girls parents reportedly accepted the proposal of the Islamic cleric despite protest from the girl.
She thereafter fled their Ore home on the day fixed for the marriage with support from her brother to Akure, the state capital.
The victim was said to have been advised by symphatisers to lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that she was sheltered by the Ministry which liaised with the Justice Ministry to file a legal action to stop the marriage.
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Consequently, Alhaji Lateef and the girl’s parents were arraigned at the Family Court for breaching Part three of the 2007 Ondo State Child Rights Law.
The court after listening to the defendants 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.
Also, the Cleric was warned by the court to stay away from the teenager henceforth.
Reacting, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Titilola Adeyemi, said the courts verdict was “victory for children in the state.
“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.”
The girl who said she intended to further her education as well as be a good woman in the future was handed back to her parents after staying away from them for one month.