Attempts by an Islamic cleric identified as Alhaji Yusuf Lateef to marry a 16-year-old secondary school girl as his ninth wife has been quashed by a court in Akure, Ondo State.
SaharaReporters gathered that Lateef had made overtures to the teenager's family in 2019 when she was 15 and pressured them into agreeing to allow him marry her.
With the acceptance of the family, the Islamic cleric went on to fix 16th of April, 2020 for the marriage ceremony.
It was however, gathered that the girl fled her parent’s home after plans for the solemnization became rife.
She escaped to Akure, the state capital, and took refuge at the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
SaharaReporters gathered that after preliminary investigations, the ministry immediately invited Alhaji Lateef and the parents of the girl for questioning.
They were later dragged before a family court for breaching part 3 of the 2007 Ondo State Child Rights Law.
Using the alternative dispute resolution mechanism, the Family Court ruled and ordered that the girl be returned to her parents without any marriage, adding that her education must continue.
The court also ruled that Alhaji Lateef be made to sign an undertaking to stay away from the girl as well as ensure that no harm came to her.
Reacting to the development, Mrs Titilola Adeyemi, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, condemned the action of the parents and cleric for attempting to forcefully trade her into marriage.
According to her, forcing the teenage girl into marriage was like denying her a future and education.