A court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has stopped an Islamic cleric, Yusuf Lateef, from marrying a 16-year-old girl .

The defendant had previously approached the girl’s parents to marry their daughter in 2019 when the girl was 15 years old but the girl had refused until her parents compelled her to marry the defendant this year.

In protest, the teenager reportedly fled her parent’s home in Odigbo Local Government Area on the day fixed for the wedding with support from her brother who lived in Akure.

The teenager was said to have reported the matter at the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development where she was sheltered for some days.

It was thereafter that the matter was charged to the Family Court in Akure where Lateef and the girl’s parents were arraigned for breaching the part three of the 2007 Ondo State Child Rights Law.

After hearing from both the defendants and the plaintiff, the judge, Magistrate Aderemi Adegoroye, ruled that the girl be returned to her parents and Lateef be made to sign an undertaking to stay away from her.

The court also ordered the girl’s family to ensure her proper care and education.

Ondo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Titilola Adeyemi, described the judgment as a victory for children in the state.

“We are excited the matter has gone that way. That will be a warning to everybody that it is ‘no’ to child marriage in Ondo State. Child marriage is denying a child her future. We must make sure we work for the child to realise her future,” she said.