Three arrested for marrying off 15-year-old girl

AGAGO, UGANDA: Police in Agago is holding three people for their alleged involvement in forcing an underage girl into marriage.

The suspects are Patrick Rubangakene 20years, Jennifer Lamunu, the mother of the underage girl and the wife of Kabuka village LC I chairperson, and the 15-year old prospective bride.

Police rounded up the suspects on Monday from Kabuka village in Kimiya parish, Wol sub county on a tip-off from residents and the girl’s father.

Richard Stanley Odong, the Wol sub county LC V councilor, says that the suspects were found holding a traditional marriage function after the prospective groom paid off the bride price.

According to Odong, the girl’s mother and some relatives had already received Shillings 600,000, two goats, chicken, and some gifts as dowry.

James Otto Lanuka, the Kabuka village LC I chairperson, says that upon receipt of information about the illegal marriage, he alerted the police that immediately cordoned off the venue and arrested the suspects as other attendees scampered in different directions.

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Those on the run mainly relatives and in-laws of the prospective bride, include Florence Akanyo, Martin Anyanya, Ocaya Lamili, and another only identified as Olula.
Otto says he had severally disagreed with his wife over forcing their underage daughter into marriage but his companion has been conniving with some of his relatives and issued contradicting statements alleging that the minor was above the age of consent.

The father of the groom, Walter Nyeko also reiterates that he opposed the marriage plan citing irregularities that the girl was a minor but he doesn’t know why his son and some of his relatives continued to organize the occasion.

Agago District Police Commander, Paul Katwesigye says that investigation into the matter and pursuit of the missing suspects is ongoing. Adding that once apprehended, they will arraign the suspects in court for defilement.

Katwesigye added that the victim’s mother faces two counts of marrying off an underage girl and procuring defilement while the groom will be charged with defilement. He has warned parents to avoid such acts since the age of consent in Uganda is 18 years.

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