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We ‘Married Off’ Our 4-Yr-Old Daughter To 54-Yr-Old Man in other to save her life – Parents

Bayelsa State governor, Douye

The parents of a four-year-old girl who was “married” to a 54-year-old man in a Bayelsa community said that they did it to save their daughter’s life, as part of a traditional rite.

They said that the rite, which took place in Akeddei community in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa, was a spiritual way of breaking the bond between the two who were destined to be together in their “past lives”.

 

The Bayelsa Government summoned the girl’s parents, the man, a traditional ruler and others who were involved in the rite, after it caused a public uproar.

 

The state government’s Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT) questioned the parents of the girl and three others on Thursday to find out their roles in the child marriage.

 

The Chairman of GRIT, Dr Dise Ogbise-Goddy, and the Bayelsa State Coordinator of the Child Protection Network, Kizito Andah, led the government’s team.

 

The team also included the Chairman of Bayelsa Non-Governmental Forum, Mr Taritei Boco, and representatives of the DO Foundation, National Human Rights Commission and Civil Society Groups.

 

The father of the girl, Mr Morris Aboma, the man, Mr Akpos Napoleon, and the Paramount ruler, Chief Moneyman Binabo, gave their statements to the government team.

 

They all maintained that the alleged child marriage was a traditional custom called “Koripamo” that was meant to save the girl’s life.

 

They said that it was a cultural custom in Akeddei community, Oyakiri clan, that a man had to pay a token amount as a symbol of saving the life of a girl child who was always ill.

 

The community members said that what happened between the girl and Napoleon was not a marriage but an Ijaw cultural custom called ” Koripamo”.

 

They added that the man who paid the token did not have to marry the girl.

 

“The traditional rite will also not prevent the girl from marrying any man she wants when she reaches the age of marriage.”

 

They said that the Ijaw tradition allowed this rite to be done on a boy child or girl child.

The girl’s father, Aboma, who spoke in Ijaw language, said his daughter was always sick and almost dying.

 

He said that the only solution was for a man to pay a token price and save his daughter’s life, and that it was not a real marriage.

 

The man, Napoleon, said he regretted the backlash that followed the rite, as he only did it to save the girl’s life, who was now healthy.

 

He said that this tradition had been practiced for a long time, but it had never been celebrated with such pomp and ceremony as the Dec. 26, 2023 event, which sparked outrage and criticism.

 

“But since she said she would die if I didn’t do what she wanted, I had to find money and do it, because it was a matter of life; I am very unhappy about this whole situation,” Napoleon said.

The paramount ruler of the Akeddei community, Binabo, said he was aware of a marriage in the community during the festive season.

 

The traditional ruler said he did not know the full details, until the DPO of Sagbama Police Station asked him to bring those who got married in the community.

Binabo said he then called the parents of the girl to get more information about what happened on the marriage day.

He said the parents told him that the girl was sick and that Napoleon paid a token amount.

He stressed that what happened in the Akeddei community was not a real marriage but a cultural practice.

 

 

 

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