16-year-old girl forced into marriage in Ekiti

A 16-year-old girl (name withheld) from Kogi State has been abducted and forced into marriage in Orun-Ekiti, Ekiti State, by a traditional chief to mark his chieftaincy installation rite. She was allegedly taken away from her parents under the pretence that the traditional ruler of the Orun-Ekiti wanted to see her.

 The girl, now in the custody of the Ekiti State Ministry of Women Affairs and Gender Empowerment, was said to have been kept secretly for seven days by the chief before the state government came to her rescue. Ekiti State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Gender Empowerment, Mrs Fola Richie-Adewusi said the action was against the state Laws on Gender Violence Prohibition and Child Right.

 The chief, who allegedly abducted the girl, allegedly approached the parents with a horse tail believed to be an authority from the monarch of Orun-Ekiti, saying the girl was needed in the palace. Speaking on the issue, the Women Commissioner disclosed that the alleged chief only wanted to use his little wealth to oppress the poor and forcefully marry the little girl without the parents’ consent.

 The chief, according to the commissioner, has been arrested but released on bail while the government has started the process of legal action against him. When Daily Sun met the Oloja of Orun-Ekiti, Oba Osalusi Oluwasola, explained that the chief came to him that he has gotten an “Abokoaye” (a young girl that a man who is a about to get chieftaincy title must have before the rites could be completed) and that the monarch should give him an authority to bring the girl to the palace.

 He explained that he did not know the agreement between the man and the girl’s parents, saying he believed that the man should have consulted the parents and done all the necessary things for the parents to give him their daughter.
 The Oloja maintained that it was custom in their community as he did similar thing when he was about to be made a High Chief as Oloja in the 1970s.

 According to the monarch, it was his family member who helped him look for his “Abokoaaye” whom he said was an under-aged girl then but emphasized that he sent the girl back to her parents after all the rites had been done and exercised patience until three years when the girl was matured enough to be married before he brought her home as new wife.

 He appealed to the government for understanding, saying it was their custom and if it was contrary to the law of Ekiti State now then such a thing would not happen again and that the chief should go and do all he could to appeal to the parents of the girl, and if needed he should wait for the age the law specified.

 All efforts to reach the chief on phone failed and the monarch said he had travelled down to Ado-Ekiti and that he did not know when he would be back.
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