Parents of the 4 year- old girl who was “married” to a 54-year-old man at the riverside settlement of Akeddei in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and three others were on Thursday handed a temporary relief by the state government through the Gender Response Initiative Team, GRIT, over the alleged child marriage.

However, they insisted that the marriage rites are a traditional practice termed “Koripamo” done to save the little girl’s life.

The state government team is made up of the Chairman of the Gender Response Initiative Team(GRiT), Dr. Dise Ogbise, the Bayelsa State Coordinator of the Child Protection Network, Kizito Andah, CPN and the Bayelsa State Chairman of BANGOF, Comrade Taritei Boco, DO Foundation, NAWOJ, other Non-governmental Organization, NGOs, National Human Rights Commission and Civil Society Groups,CSOs.

The team heard the submissions from the father of the four-year-old Elder Morris Aboma, the alleged husband, Akpos Napoleon and the Paramount ruler, Chief Moneyman Binabo.

In their separate submissions before the team of experts, they all insisted that the purported child marriage was a traditional practice termed “Koripamo” to save the little girl’s life.

They explained to the team that it is a cultural practice in Akeddei Community, Oyakiri Clan in Sagbama Local Government Area whereby if a girl child always falls sick a man will be required to drop a symbolic amount to save the little girl from dying, saying what transpired between the 4-year-old girl and Akpos Napoleon was not a marriage but an Ijaw cultural practice called ” Koripamo”


They noted that whenever the traditional rite of “Koripamo” is conducted the man who pays the “token ” is not required to take her as a wife nor will he stop her from marrying any man of her choice when she is up to the age of marriage. According to him, this can be done on a boy child or girl child.

Father of the four-year-old, Elder Morris Aboma, who spoke in his Ijaw vernacular, said her daughter was always sick to the point of death, adding that according to Akeddei tradition, the only way to save her life is for a man to pay a symbolic and save the child’s life and that if has nothing to do with a real marriage.

The 54-year-old groom said, “As it is now am regretting doing all I did just to save the child’s life as she’s no longer sick again and such tradition has been going on but it has not been celebrated to the extent of hiring canopy, sound system and cooking of food.

“But since she says if I don’t do what she says she will die I have to look for money and do it since it involves life. As it is I am frustrated by this whole issue.”

The paramount ruler of the Akeddei community, HRH Moneyman Binabo in his submission said he heard of a marriage in the community during the Christmas festivities but did not have full details not until the DPO of Sagbama Police Station asked him to produce those that got married in the community.

Binabo further said he had to invite the parents of the little girl to get detailed information on what happened on the 27th of December and the parents told him that the little girl had been sick and that one Akpos Napoleon had to drop a symbolic amount
“to save the life of the little girl adding that what happened in the Akeddei community was not a formal marriage but a fulfillment of a cultural practice.”

He however said that what surprised him was the demand of the little girl that food be cooked, canopy and a sound system be hired to celebrate the marriage.

The paramount ruler noted further that the man who pays the token to the girl is not expected to take her home to live as husband and wife nor stop the girl from marrying any other person of her choice when she is old enough to marry.

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