Police have arrested a 20-year-old man from a village in Witu Division, in Lamu West for allegedly marrying a Class Three pupil.
The suspect, Wanje Kaingu Ngowa, a bodaboda rider, is alleged to have married and stayed with the 12-year-old girl for almost a week in his house.
Neighbours who spoke to the Nation said the man used to frequent the home of the victim to bring foodstuffs after the girl was left behind by the mother who has been away nursing a sick relative at King Fahad Hospital.
"The man used to bring food to the girl for quite some time as she was left behind by her mother who has been away looking after their sick relative at King Fahad Hospital. The girl’s father died a while back. The man took advantage of the family's poverty and married the girl," said a neighbour.
SEARCH FOR GIRL
Nyumba Kumi officials who spoke to the Nation said they launched a search for the girl immediately she went missing.
"We are aware that the girl's mother isn't around. It's only the girl and her siblings who were left behind. We became suspicious when we only saw the young children alone at the homestead. We mounted our search immediately. We were able to trace and locate where the girl was staying with the bodaboda rider,” said a Nyumba Kumi official.
Lamu County Police Commander Moses Murithi said the suspect is being held at Witu Police Station and will be arraigned after police complete their investigations.
Mr Murithi said it is against the law to marry pupils and students who are under 18 years of age.
He also urged parents and the public to be more responsible and report any cases of early marriages to the police.
"We've already arrested the suspect. We're holding him at Witu Police Station. We will present him in court on Monday to face defilement charges," said Mr Murithi.
The incident comes at a time when police are still investigating an incident where a Muslim cleric is accused of marrying a 13-year-old KCPE candidate in another Village within Witu.
Local administrators had earlier accused the ustadh of working in cahoots with the girl's parents in order to marry her as his wife.
Cases of early marriages and teenage pregnancies have been on the rise in Lamu County, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
According to the Lamu County statistics department, a total of 512 girls, mostly from primary schools have been impregnated between March and June this year.