On Wednesday, January 30, 2019. Pulse reported the matter of a child marriage that supposedly took place in Ozubulu, Anambra State, between a man she claims to be 56-year-old Izuchukwu Igwilo of the popular and wealthy Igwilo family of Anambra State to a 16-year-old girl (now reported to actually be 15).
How Human Rights Activist rescued 15-year-old girl from forced marriage to 56-year-old man in Anambra
New reports claim the girl is actually 15-years-old and a #RetrieveChinwe campaign has started across Nigerian social media to retrieve the 15-year-old away from her would be husband.
The initial report
The news was broken on Facebook by Nigerian entrepreneur, Vivian Queenstine Diora, who went on a rant and revealed that Izuchukwu, the groom suffers from mental illness and alcohol addiction.
Some videos from the supposed marriage, posted on social media;
Social media activism
The matter started activism on social media. Matters of pedophilia, child marriage, rape and (age of) consent have become sensitive contemporary issues and people were not going to let this slide. Thus, #RetrieveChinwe became a trend after the news broke on January 29, 2019.
Through these acts of heroic activism, news have also filtered in that the girl was already a nursing mother when she was forcefully married into the Igwilo family - her baby is reportedly six months old.
For nuance, the Child's Rights Act specifies the minimum age for marriage to be 18. However, the madness of the Nigerian legal system and its history of contradicting itself means the Matrimonial Causes Act and Marriage Act specify different ages from the one provided by the Child's Rights Act.
Prince Gwamnishu Emefiele Harrison
Immediately after the news dropped, Awka, Anambra State-based Human Rights Activist, Prince Gwamnishu Emefiele Harrison has been active in trying to get the girl - since identified as Chinwe - away from the situation she was forced into.
Through his Facebook timeline, we also discovered that the initial pictures circling the internet were from an introduction - not a wedding. Despite some reservations from certain members of the wealthy Igwilo family, they still scheduled a traditional wedding for Easter 2019.
He made his interest public, but first, he did preliminary research on the matter - he also updated his Facebook page with findings as they came along after landed in Ozubulu, Anambra State on January 31, 2019.
First, we discovered that, all but two of the social media activists based in Anambra State didn't show up. The two who showed up to assist Harrison were, Kene Ezika and a Lawyer named Ajuebor Favour.
Upon arrival in Ozubulu, Harrison typed on his Facebook page that, "We arrived Ozubulu and later proceeded to Ihiala in Anambra State. Home town of Chinwe (15yrs old girl giving out for marriage).
"The woman receiving money is one of the key people that conspired and gave her (Chinwe) out without her consent. (Sorry to put this here, the man (Izuchukwu Igwilo) is an imbecile, mentally unstable). For me to meet with her parents, they demanded money from me and I handed over to them.
"For me to also retrieve Chinwe, (I) am also going to pay the expenses the Igwilos spent for the introduction. Marriage is scheduled to hold soon. Chinwe is currently in Ozubulu (Her present location is known to us)."
As implied, Chinwe never consented to the marriage, she was forced by her family members. Allegedly, the plan with the Igwilo family was also for Izuchukwu's brothers to raise any children Chinwe bore him due to his many inadequacies.
So Harrison took it upon himself to bear the costs of the rescue; paid costs to see Chinwe's parents and assured them that Chinwe will be taken care of.
Also on the same day, Harrison posted on his Facebook timeline that he was due to meet the Igwilos of Ozubulu on February 1, 2019, he said he was going there with a petition and implored people to help him secure members of the wide Nigerian security pool.
His plan was to pick Chinwe up and hand her to the Ministry of Women Affairs, Anambra State.
Around 5 pm on February 1, 2019, with the help of Efficient Grace Ume and Ajuebor Favour, Harrison posted the details of an approved petition by the Anambra State Police Command to rescue Chinwe.
By this point, he had met Chinwe's parents and he claims Chinwe's mother said that Chinwe was of marriageable age because she (Chinwe's mother) got married at 13. Harrison, however, informed them of the wrongness and consequences of their actions.
Around 10am yesterday, February 2, 2019, Harrison posted that the processes to #RetrieveChinwe were 98% complete. Soon after, he posted that the processes were complete and over one million Nigerians had expressed an interest in taking Chinwe on, accommodate and train her.
He soon posted that he had left Ihiala and was on his way back to Awka and more;
Pulse has since confirmed from reliable sources that Chinwe has in fact been rescued. However, efforts to confirme Izuchukwu Igwilo's age have yielded no results so far.
Since then, encomiums have been showered on Prince Gwamnishu Emefiele Harrison for a job well done and for his selflessness in taking the matter upon himself to get Chinwe rescued from the throngs of a lifetime of sadness and even worse, a continuance of normalized child marriage.
Here are some of those posts;
For all the prayers, Harrison also thanked everybody and later claimed this morning that he is set to investigate another case of child marriage in Nnewi, Anambra State where another girl has allegedly absconded after being forced to marry a 66-year-old man.
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