A child marriage which is forbidden by law has taken place in Mushin, Lagos State, Nigeria.
The marriage which is currently an issue of concern to human rights groups and stakeholders in the state, took place between a 15 year old girl and a 52-year-old Pastor Stephanos Lucky Enofe, who was said to be a father of four children from his wife.
The United Nations Children’s Fund law says marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights.
According to the information gathered, the pastor who is popularly known as Bishop Steph Enofe by his followers, is the founder of the Spirit Of Grace (SOG) Ministry, located at 8 Makinde street, at Idi-oro axis of Mushin.
The pastor was said to have allegedly asked for the teenager’s hand in marriage after his first wife had packed out of his house.
The wife was gathered to have allegedly accused him of being fetish and womanising.
It was also learned that the pastor had defiled the teenager for over two years.
“I learned that both the traditional and church wedding had taken place and the girl had moved into the man’s house to live with him.
“The little girl who is an ardent member of the cleric’s church is his second wife and this cleric went for an underage child after his first wife; mother of four children packed out of his house and had refused every reconciliatory advance for over three years”, a source hinted.
The girl’s father, who was not in support of the marriage, alleged that Bishop Enofe, started having sex with the child when she was only 13-years-old.
Currently, according to the mandated reporter, the girl had moved in to start living with Bishop Enofe as his wife since August 28th, 2020, after he performed all traditional wedding rites to officially convert the child to his wife.
The pastor, when contacted by a member of an advocate group, Advocate for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network, on the matter, claimed he had the right to marry the teenager since her family had agreed.
He also warned the group to desist from interfering in the matter.
As at press time, plans was on by the advocate group to save the teenager from being violated further by the pastor.
Recalled that UNICEF data had revealed that 44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 18% are married before the age of 15.
The international organization had rated Nigeria with the third highest absolute number of child brides in the world – 3,538,000 – and the 11th highest prevalence rate of child marriage globally.
The organization observed that child marriage is most common in the North West and North East of Nigeria, where 68% and 57% of women aged 20-49 were married before their 18th birthday.
A 2017 World Bank study estimates that child marriage costs Nigeria USD7.6 billion in lost earnings and productivity every year.