By Sunny A. David, Awka
The Anambra State Ministry of Women and Children Affairs said it received a complaint about an alleged under-aged marriage involving a 15-years-old girl from Ihiala that is married to a 56-years-old man from Ozubulu.
Speaking in a press statement, the Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, said the ministry is following up on the case as it continues to collaborate with several persons and organisations including security agencies towards quick resolution of the case.
She said the ministry is also in contact with the girl’s family, Anambra Police and other interested parties in the matter including Human Rights Activists.
Lady Ndidi noted that the utmost concern of the Ministry at this period, is the safety and well-being of the young girl in question, as well as the well-being of her child and as a result, the Ministry has up till this time, not made any press statement, granted any media interviews nor released any pictures concerning the matter, so as to protect the dignity and privacy of the innocent persons involved.
She used this opportunity to call on all those working on the case with them to toe the same line.
The Commissioner said that considerable progress has been made on the matter and stated that the young girl in question is not yet in the custody of the Ministry as reported on several social media platforms.
Lady Ndidi assured the public that in line with their mandate, and as can be seen in previous social welfare interventions undertaken by the Ministry, they will pursue the case towards achieving a satisfactory and positive outcome.
It would be recalled that Mr. Harrison Gwamnishu, the coordinator of Behind Bars Rights Foundation, a Human Rights Group disclosed this to our Correspondent on Sunday, saying his group championed the release of the girl by her in-laws from Ozubulu.
A traditional marriage ceremony of the girl to her 56-year-old husband held on 28 January, 2019 and had been condemned by all.
Our Correspondent gathered that the 15-year-old girl, who is a single mother had been married off by her poor parents to the 56-year-old man, who was said to be either mentally unstable or suffering from down syndrome, but from a wealthy family.
Our sources in Ozubulu, the hometown of the man showed that the family who were mostly rich business men had arranged the marriage to help build a home for their brother.
Mr. Gwamnishu who pioneered the release of the girl from her husband said, “Our group heard of the marriage, on 28 January, and we thought it wasn’t right. We moved from Delta State where we are based to Ozubulu, but the entire marriage seemed shrouded in secrecy.
“The family were not willing to speak, nor were the members of the community. We, however, gathered that the family were very rich and wanted to use the girl to settle their brother, and that the girl was from Ihiala. Since our interest is not the man, we moved to Ihiala where we met the parents. They were not cooperative.
“The father asked us what our interest in her daughter was, saying that she had married her daughter off to a family that would be able to take care of her, and that we had no reason to begin to meddle in family affairs.”
Mr. Gwamnishu said after being satisfied that the marriage actually took place, the group went back home and petitioned the police.
He stated that the girl had on Saturday night been rescued at last, and through the help of his organization the girl has been handed over to Lady Ndidi Mezue, Anambra State Commissioner for Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.