A 37-year-old man, Michael Ugwu, who claims to work as a police SPY official at a federal ministry in Lagos state, has been arrested by the police in the state for taking a 12-year-old orphan, identified only as Nneka as wife.
Nneka’s grand father, Abada, a native doctor in Enugu State, reportedly gave out her out in marriage to Ugwu, an indigene of Aji in Enugu Ezike town, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
It was gathered that Ugwu, had gone to the Ipaja Police Division, Lagos to report that his teenage wife ran away from home and had since been missing.
The police, upon finding the said missing wife, subsequently detained Ugwu for marrying a minor.
A police source at the Division said, “Ugwu came and reported that his wife absconded and that he even took a loan from a bank to marry her. He even sounded drunk when he came to the station.
“When we saw the minor he called wife, we had to detain him to get more information, because a 12-year-old girl is not ripe for marriage, so we had to ask him more questions,” the source added.
But Ugwu, on his part, said the girl’s grandfather willingly gave her out to him in marriage at their hometown in Enugu State.
He added that there was a traditional marriage to that effect on January 20, 2016 in the village, attended by about 50 persons, including community elders, the girl’s grandfather and other villagers.
He noted he never saw anything wrong with taking the girl as a wife because there were elders at the event and they gave their blessings to the union, adding that the girl’s grandfather, who also happened to be his old time friend, had assured him that the girl was not a small girl.
Ugwu said, “I have been under pressure from my family members to get married, and when I visited the village earlier in the year, I and Abada, a retired Biafran soldier, went to have a drink.
“I paid the bills and told Abada I needed a woman to marry.
“Abada was happy I paid for his drinks, and he assured me he would introduce me to a girl. He said I might not be able to take care of a woman he wanted to give me but that he had another one for me. The following morning, I visited him with a friend of mine.
“He asked for N500 and I gave him. Around 10pm, he brought a girl to my house. I was about sleeping then. He said the girl he brought for me is his child and that he would want me to marry from their place.
“I asked if the girl is up to the right age, he said yes; that she was not a small girl. He said he needed to give the girl out in marriage so that she would not get unwanted pregnancy. I said okay.
“He brought the girl again the following morning. He asked that I shook hands with the girl and I did. He said I should not joke with the offer because someone else had even shown interest in the girl but that he wanted me to marry her. He said I should come with one carton each of beer and malt to ‘knock the door’ as the tradition demands.
“We call it ‘Omenala’. He gave me the list of items to buy for the introduction,” Ugwu stated.
“During my first visit, I went with one carton of beer and malt. During my second visit for the introduction, the items I bought, according to the list I was given, included a jar of palm wine worth N30,000, eight cartons of beer worth N16,000, two cartons of malt worth N3,000, amount spent on cooking to entertain the guests cost N11,000, two laps of pig meat worth N6,000, 30 kolanuts worth N2,800, two packets of cigarette worth N400 and dowry of N33,000. I was there with some of my family members.
“At the event, even though she didn’t give me wine as required traditionally and we didn’t put on same attire, Abada gave her to me and told us to kneel down and he prayed for us. He said he expected us to come back with children.
“The two times the girl was brought to my house and on the day of the introduction, she wore high heels, which made her look taller and mature.
“At that time, I didn’t see her as too young, and as our elders in the village supported it, I thought it was right. I am a heavy drinker, maybe that is why I was confused and the pressure from my people to get married made me to rush into it. Then, the girl’s grandfather is a herbalist, I don’t know whether he covered my eyes because now I regret my actions.
“I came back to Lagos with the girl in February. I think I was hypnotised for me to have taken that loan because now, my salary is being deducted monthly to pay back the loan.
“I have never slept with her, but I made the attempt twice but it was not successful, as I could not penetrate, so I left her.
“I think the man used a charm to hypnotise me, otherwise, how would I have married such a young girl without knowing it and that is part of the reasons why I regret my actions. I love the girl but she didn’t respond when I tried ‘it’ because there was ‘no way’.
“How would I have a wife at home and I would still go out to satisfy myself (sexually). A doctor even advised me not to sleep with her because she was too young to be pregnant. I made two attempts to sleep with her but no way. I didn’t force her. In my life, I had never deflowered any woman.”
Commenting on the incident, the Director of Children Affairs in the Ministry, Mrs. Alaba Fadairo, said the case was under investigation.
The Spokesperson for the Enugu State Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu, said the command would swing into action as soon as it is briefed by the Lagos State Command or a formal report is made to the command on the matter.