Yusuf Lateef, a Muslim cleric in Ondo has been stopped by a court sitting in the state capital, Akure from marrying a 16-year-old girl (name withheld) as his ninth wife.

The cleric, according to ThePunch had approached the girl’s parents in 2019, seeking her hand in marriage, but the girl, who was 15 at the time turned down the proposal.

Following her parents’ effort to force her to accept the proposal, the teenager reportedly fled her parent’s home in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.

She was said to have fled on the day fixed for the wedding between her and the cleric.

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

Subsequently, the case 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, The Punch reports.

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

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

Reacting to the court's pronouncement on the matter, Ondo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Titilola Adeyemi, said the judgment is a victory for children in the state.

She said, “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.”