A family court in Akure, Ondo State has forcefully terminated a forced marriage of a 16 year old secondary school girl to an Islamic cleric, Alhaji Yusuf Lateef who is already married to eight wives.
Alhaji Yusuf Lateef sought the girl’s hand in marriage from her parents in 2019 when she was only 15 and in secondary school. Her 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 Ondo State capital.
She was advised by sympathizers to lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. The Ministry is said to have sheltered the girl, name withheld and liaise with Ondo State Justice Ministry to file a legal action to stop the marriage.
Subsequently, Alhaji Lateef and the girl’s parents were arraigned at the Family Court for breaching Part Three of Ondo State 2007 Child Rights Law. The three man panel court led by Justice Aderemi Adegoroye after listening to the defendants ruled that the girl be returned to her parents for proper care and education. The court also warned that Alhaji Lateef be made to sign an undertaking to stay away from the girl henceforth and to ensure that no harm comes her way.
The State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Titilola Adeyemi, on hearing the courts’ verdict said
“This is 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 said she intended to further her education as well as be a good woman in the future. She was handed back to her parents after staying away from them for one month.