Parents of a four-year-old girl and the 54-year-old man, who were supposedly engaged in matrimony, have been summoned by the Bayelsa State Government to attend a meeting. The alleged marriage is said to have taken place in Akeddei community in the Sagbama Local Government Area. According to a report, the government has decided to intervene following widespread media coverage of a marriage between a child and an adult man that took place on December 2nd. On December 30, 2023, the state capital of Yenagoa received a statement from the government, expressing their response to the situation.
Dise Ogbise-Goddy, the chairperson of the Gender Response Initiative Team in Bayelsa State, and Paniebi Jacob, the director of Child Development in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Children, and Social Development, have both affixed their signatures to this joint statement. The marriage, deemed as illegal by the state government due to its reliance on tradition and customs, was strongly disapproved. The government argued that it contradicted the principles of natural justice, fairness, and moral consciousness.
Bayelsa State Gov’t does not condone or endorse child marriage.
The controversial marriage complaint received by the Ministry of Women, Children Affairs, and Social Development, along with the Gender Response Initiative Team, has been officially acknowledged as mentioned in their statement. DO Foundation, a child rights advocacy group, submitted the formal complaint. Jacob Ogbise-Goddy, and the Human Rights Commission representative of the state reported that the traditional leader of Akeddei acknowledged and accepted the government’s request. The traditional leader made a commitment to present the child, her parents, the groom, the youth leader, and the Community Development Committee’s chairman, as requested.
In no way does the Bayelsa State Government condone or endorse child marriage, as explicitly stated in their official statement. The quick approval of the Bayelsa State Child Rights Law by the state government was an unmistakable reflection of their unwavering commitment to protecting the well-being and rights of children. The state government is actively engaging in measures to save the child from the grasp of all individuals involved in what they misleadingly labeled as a mere spiritual event, but is, in fact, an illegal ceremony.
Her parents said the man aged 54 was her spouse in a previous existence.
Furthermore, the government has a clear understanding of the law when it comes to matters of tradition and customs that go against natural justice, fairness, and a sense of right and wrong. Collaborating with the Bayelsa State Police Command, their aim is to prevent any similar incidents from happening in the state in the future. The government extended its heartfelt appreciation to all the non-governmental organizations, such as FIDA and DO Foundation, for their commendable efforts in coming to the aid of this innocent child. The governor of Bayelsa State joined in expressing gratitude for their tremendous support.
Also, Bayelsa State ensures a hospitable environment for children, leaving no doubt that this matter will be relentlessly pursued until a satisfactory resolution is achieved. It was discovered that the parents of the young girl were the ones responsible for arranging the supposed marriage with the man named Elder Akpos. A claim has been made by the girl’s parents, stating that the man aged 54 was her spouse in a previous existence, as reported by an undisclosed source. Based on what the local community source shared, the girl insisted that the man had been her spouse in a past life, and his demise had occurred under enigmatic circumstances.
She stated her intention to pass away serenely if she does not marry him.
According to accounts, the young girl supposedly shared her life story, revealing a continuous journey from one location to another under various guardians, in her relentless pursuit of reuniting with her ex-partner. According to the informant, the young bride firmly voiced that if she were denied the opportunity to wed her husband, she would opt for no other engagements within the locale of Akeddei. Moreover, she professed her intention to pass away serenely, departing on her own unique path. To prevent the tragic loss of the girl from the clutches of death, the inhabitants of Akeddei chose to orchestrate an opulent wedding celebration, symbolizing the marriage of these two souls who were intertwined in their past lives.