A 16-year-old girl from Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, Miss Chinwe, who was married off by her family to a 56-year-old man, Igwilo, has been rescued.
Mr Harrison Gwamnishu, the coordinator of Behind Bars Rights Foundation, a human rights Group disclosed this to DAILY POST on Sunday, saying his group championed the release of the girl by her in-laws from Ozubulu.
An amateur video footage of a traditional marriage ceremony of the girl to her 56-year-old husband had on 28 January surfaced on Facebook, and had been condemned by all.
The 16-year-old girl, who is a single mother had been married off by her poor parents to the 56 year old man, Izuchukwu Igwilo, who was said to be either mentally unstable or suffering from down syndrome, but from a wealthy family.
Sources in Ozubulu, the hometown of the Igwilos showed that the family(Igwilo) who were mostly rich business men had arranged the marriage to help build a home for their brother, Izuchukwu.
Gwamnishu who pioneered the release of the girl from her husband said, “Our group heard of the marriage on Facebook, on 28 January, and we thought it wasn’t right. We moved from Delta State where we are based to Ozubulu, but the entire marriage seemed shrouded in secrecy.
“The Igwilo family were not willing to speak, nor were the members of the community. We, however, gathered that the Igwilo family were very rich and wanted to use the girl to settle their brother, and that the girl was from Ihiala. Since our interest is not the man, we moved to Ihiala where we met the parents. They were not cooperative.
“The father asked us what our interest in her daughter was, saying that she had married her daughter off to a family that would be able to take care of her, and that we had no reason to begin to meddle in family affairs.”
Gwamnishu said after being satisfied that the marriage actually took place, the group went back home and petitioned the police.
He stated that the girl had on Saturday night been rescued at last, and through the help of his organization the girl has been handed over to Mrs Ndidi Mezue, Anambra State Commissioner for Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
Mezue, however, could not react to the handing over of the girl to her, as attempts to reach her on phone failed repeatedly.
But a press release from her office sent to DAILY POST read, “The Anambra State Ministry of Women and Children Affairs wishes to inform the public that it has received a complaint about an alleged underage marriage involving a girl from Ihiala that is married to a man from Ozubulu.
The ministry is following up on this case as it continues to collaborate with several persons and organisations including security agencies towards quick resolution. The ministry is in contact with the girl’s family, Anambra Police and other interested parties in the matter including human rights activists.”