A non-governmental organisation, Advocates For Children And Vulnerable Peoples Network (ACVPN), has said 50-year-old bishop and father of four, Stephanus Enofe, has a case to answer as the NGO is not ready to back down in the case of alleged underage marriage.
The bishop, who is also the founder of Spirit and Grace Ministry, Idi-Oro, Mushin, had allegedly courted Confidence Ukandu, said to be 15 years old, and was planning on getting married to her in September 2020 before the NGO was alerted.
The pre-wedding photos and invitation cards of the bishop and the said 15-year-old Ukandu had circulated on social media, generating negative reactions.
Enofe was arrested by the police while Ukandu was taken to a government home in Alapere, Lagos.
SaharaReporters gathered that Ukandu, who had earlier claimed Ukandu was 15 years old, later denied it in court, stating that she was 19 years old.
Chief Operating Officer for ACVPN, Ebenezer Omejalile, told SaharaReporters on Monday that the group was not going to keep quiet on the case and allow Enofe go ahead with his plan to marry the girl.
He alleged that there were some shady activities that led to the exoneration of the bishop in the matter.
He said, “We don’t know who came up with the age issue but we are suspecting the investigating police officer because there are reports that the IPO took advantage of the fact that the Officer-in-charge, Gender was not around, so he went ahead to pick up the case file and charged it to court and the magistrate said the girl that we knew was 15 had suddenly become 19. They granted the bishop bail.”
Omejalile revealed that the young lady earlier alleged her father had been abusing her from the age of 10 and that the marriage proposal of the bishop was a means of escape for her.
He continued, “She was not well orientated that she is still a minor so they consummated the marriage. There was even a communique from the girl’s community people; they stood their ground that they would not accept it because the girl is too young for that.
“She is only tall and has a big stature. There was a letter from the family that they should handle it like a family matter. The girl’s father, who had given consent, immediately turned around when he heard that human rights organisations were interested in it. He was arrested through the office of the public defender, Lagos State at Surulere but unfortunately this is the outcome.”
He said the group was still waiting for the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the issue.
“We are still waiting for the decision of the DPP because we are not too sure of the rumour that we are hearing that the DPP said the bishop has no case to answer. If the DPP truly said so, then, that is based on what the IPO and the prosecutor prepared and presented before the DPP. But right now, we are not taking it lightly. Why would they say a girl we know is 15 years old is suddenly 19? We are not going to keep quiet about that,” he added.
SaharaReporters, New York