A 17-year-old girl, Fatima Baba, has appealed to the Niger Child Protection Agency to grant her a divorce from her 35-year-old husband, Salihu Mohammed.
Baba explained to the agency that she wants a divorce because she wants to go back to school and she doesn’t love her husband anymore.
She said: “I was given in marriage to Salihu by my family, who thought I will have a better life with him.”
“I do not want this marriage; I do not love this man.”
"I want a divorce because I want to go to school and it is only when I am divorced that I can return to school.”
The husband, however, refused to divorce the girl, saying her uncle gave his consent before he legally married her.
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He said: “At first, my wife was happy with the marriage until she suddenly changed her mind and opted for a divorce.”
“I still love my wife and I want to spend my life with her, but if she wants a divorce, I have no objection. I cannot force her to remain in the union.”
The husband and wife are residents of Shaba Legbo village in Gbako local government area of the Niger state.
Halilu Shaba, district head of Shaba Legbo explained to the agency that parents from their community are fond of forcing their children into marriage at a young age.
He said: “Some also send their children to become house-maids, thereby denying them the opportunity to go to school.”
The director-general of the agency, Maryam Kolo, who commended Baba for seeking divorce, gave both families a 2-week ultimatum to dissolve the marriage.
She said: “If you fail to do so within the two weeks, the agency will file for divorce on behalf of the girl in a Sharia Court.”
Kolo also warned parents and community leaders against forcing teenage children into marriage thereby denying them the opportunity to acquire western education.