Controversy is raging in Anambra State over the marriage of Miss Chinwe, a 16-year-old girl from Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area of the State to a 56-year-old man, Igwilo who is alleged to be a raving lunatic.The controversy started when an amateur video footage of a traditional marriage ceremony of the girl to her 56-year-old husband on 28 January surfaced on Facebook. It attracted wide condemnation.
The 16-year-old girl, who is a single mother had been married off by her poor parents to the 56-year-old lunatic man, IzuchukwuIgwilo, who is from a wealthy family.
Sources in Ozubulu, the hometown of the Igwilos said that the family(Igwilo) who were mostly rich businessmen had arranged the marriage to help build a home for their brother, Izuchukwu.
Mr Harrison Gwamnishu, the coordinator of Behind Bars Rights Foundation, a human rights group disclosed this to newsmen on Sunday, saying his group championed the release of the girl by her in-laws from Ozubulu.
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 he had married his 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 organisation, the girl has been handed over to MrsNdidiMezue, Anambra State Commissioner for Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
We gathered that the Anambra State government has stepped into the case. A press release from the office of the Commissioner reads, “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.”