Numerous child rights advocacy groups in Bayelsa State protested on Thursday against the custom of a four-year-old girl marrying a 54-year-old man in the Akeddei community of the state’s Sagbama Local Government Area.

The marriage was characterised by child rights advocacy groups, such as the Do Foundation, as unlawful, criminal, and in violation of both the Child Rights Act and the Constitution.

Zingtie learned that the minor’s marriage to the 54-year-old man known as Elder Akpos took place on Tuesday because the girl’s parents claimed the man was her husband in her previous life.

Community sources stated that the girl claimed the man was her husband, who had unexpectedly died in their previous life. She claimed that over the years, she had been living under different parents’ care while looking for her former husband.

The source said, “The little bride said if she was not allowed to marry her husband, she would have no other business in the Akeddei community, and that she was going to die peacefully and go her way.”

“To avoid losing the girl to death, the people of Akeddei decided to organize a glamorous wedding ceremony to mark the union of the two previous life lovers.”

In a statement signed by Elvis Mannie Esq., Chairperson, DO FOUNDATION Bayelsa State, one of the child rights advocacy groups, the Do Foundation, verified the development and insisted that the foundation has opened an investigation into the development in the hopes of protecting the child.

According to Elvis Mannie, in his official statement, “the Foundation described the said child marriage as horrendous and despicable, and also a criminal activity, capable of retarding the giant strides made by the government and people of Bayelsa State in the area of protection of child rights”

He mentioned that Bayelsa State still abides by the Child’s Rights Law, which was domesticated in 2016 and which makes child marriage and child betrothals illegal under the threat of jail time and hefty penalties.

In order to protect the child from being sexually exploited and to ensure that everyone found guilty of this heinous act is arrested and prosecuted, the Foundation called on the government of Bayelsa State, the Gender Response Initiative Team, and all other parties involved in the Gender Response system, including the security agencies, to conduct a thorough investigation into this regrettable incident.

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