By Solomon Hamala
Sheikh who presided over the marriage (L) the 52 year old husband (Center in white Kanzu and cap) being arrested.
The unspeakable happened in Iganga when a couple married off their 12 year old daughter to a 52 year old husband of three wives simply because she had started experiencing periods.
The couple, living in in Bukyaye village, Nakalama Sub County in Iganga district was however apprehended by the police as they were in the process of giving away the girl.
Police acting on a tip off swung into action and raided the home of the vice chairman LC 2, Nakalama parish, Awali Mukuna and arrested the bride (husband) Abdu Akimu, a resident of Rakai and the mother to the victim, Zawuja Naigaga.
Others arrested are; the best man, Fahad Musa and the Sheikh who married off the couple, Ismael Abdulnoor.
Some of the guests who were inside the house took off as police raided the home breaking house hold properties and destroying refreshments that had been prepared for the guests.
The LC one chairman Bukyaye village, David Ziranago said they tried to stop the marriage of the girl but the mother insisted it should go on since the girl had already experienced her menstruation periods.
“The mother said nothing would stop her since it was normal for Tabliqs to marry off their daughters at that stage,” he said.
Ziranago said this was the third time Naigaga, a staunch Tablliq was giving away her daughters before reaching the age of 16.
The husband had already paid Shs50,000 to the mother of the victim.
Asia Kagoya was a primary five pupil at King Fahad primary school located in Bukyaye village.
According to a neighbor who preferred anonymity, the accused husband had spent one week with the victim in a lodge within Iganga municipality prior to the marriage ceremony.
“The man should first be charged for aggravated defilement since he had already had sexual intercourse with the minor,” he said.
The man while at Nakalama police post said he has three wives he married at the same age of 12 and wanted her to be the fourth to fulfill demands of the Islamic faith.
The mother to the victim, Zawuja Naigaga said she wanted to give away her daughter to stop her from engaging in love affairs with men outside marriage.
“Girls in this area are getting involved in early sex with men that results into pregnancies,” she said.
Naigaga vowed to marry off her daughter again in case she is released from jail saying she its legal according to the Islamic faith.
The Project Coordinator Hand To Hand Multipurpose Initiative, a local Non-governmental Organization, Robert Waiswa expressed concern over the increase in cases of child marriage especially in the districts of Iganga, Kaliro and Bugweri especially during this period of COVID 19 lock down.
Waiswa said research conducted by the organization that is involved in promoting the rights of the girl child indicates that 143 girls below the age of 16 have been married off to lusty men during this period of COVID 19 lock down in the districts of Iganga and Kaliro alone.
He said due to poverty, some parents have been forced to give away their daughters to men in exchange of food and petty cash.
The suspects were first detained at Nakalama police post before being transferred to Iganga central police station.
There was drama as the mother to the victim first declined sitting on the same motorcycle with the husband to her daughter saying it’s not allowed according to the Basoga culture but was forcefully asked to share the same ride by police who claimed she was wasting their time.
The District Police Commander Iganga, Willy Ndawula said investigations are underway to establish whether the accused man could have had sexual intercourse with the victim so that charges of aggravated defilement can be preferred against him besides other charges.
Ndawula cautioned parents against marrying off their daughters at an early age saying they risk being arrested and prosecuted before courts of law for procuring defilement.