The issue of child marriage in Nigeria came to fore when the Senate failed to remove a constitutional clause that is read by many as a tacit legitimisation of early marriage.
At issue is a clause on citizenship in Nigeria’s constitution, which stipulates that citizens who wish to renounce their citizenship must be of full age – 18 years-old. The Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution recommended the removal of section 29(4)(b), which states that “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age”.
The recommendation was contended, however, by Senator Amhed Sani Yerima former Zamfara State Governor and current sitting Senator, who caused uproar within the senate over the removal, stating that to remove section 29 4(b) would go against Islamic customary laws.
In a second vote, a lot of senators disappointed Nigerians as the recommendation did not receive the two-thirds majority required and the provision remains, prompting outcry from some Nigerians.
Yerima remained undeterred in his quest to defend child marriage as part of Islam, what many believed is just a way of defending his marriage to an Egyptian ‘minor’…in fact, some believe Yerima has many underage wives, a belief that could still stand after his interview aired yesterday on Nigerian Tv station Channels TV where he said the number of underage wives he has is personal.
According to Yerima, a girl is ripe for marriage once she is mature. He said maturity in this sense means puberty, describing it as when a girl starts menstruating and the breasts start coming out. He maintained that such girls are ripe for marriage, especially when the parents whom he said have a better judgement of a girl child’s maturity says she’s mature.
Following Yerima’s Channels interview, former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayode took a swipe at the former Governor, calling him a paedophile.
“I just watched Senator Ahmed Yarima Bakura on Channels TV and I am utterly revolted. He is a practising paedophile and I have absolutely no respect for him. Hajiya Khadiyya Ahmed, a practising Muslim herself, conducted the interview in an excellent manner and she took him to the cleaners in a very clinical and professional manner. However I was taken aback by the fact that she asked a practising paedophile how we can protect children from child abuse and other paedophiles? This man believes in marrying girls as young as 6 years old and he is being asked how to protect children from paedophiles? I know that the brilliant Khaddiya asked him that question with her tongue in her cheek and just to humour him but I still have to say may God help us in this country. The sooner we go back to regional governments the better,” Fani-Kayode said.
Continuing, Fani-Kayode said; “This is the only country in the world that allows child marriage, child sex and paedophilia apart from Saudi Arabia (who are about to change the law), Yemen and Iran. And it is Yarima that is encourages this great evil in the name of his faith in Nigeria. 95 per cent of muslim countries in the world today have specifically banned child marriage by law yet some people keep trying to justify this filthy practice in the name of their faith. Are they better muslims than others? Are they better muslims than the muslims of Yorubaland where such things are not allowed by law? I am very disappointed in the Yarima’s of this world but I am even more disappointed in those people that are in high places that have refused to challenge him about his abominable practices and put him in his place .
“The great faiths of Islam, Christianity and Judaism all have three thing in common- firstly they are all derived from Father Abraham who was the ”father of faith”. Secondly they are all monotheic and believe in only one God. And thirdly they are designed to inspire us, to bring us closer to God, to guide us through our lives, to show us the way to heaven when our work on earth is done and to protect and support the weaker and more vulnerable ones in our commnunity and society including the children. No religion was designed to prey on children and feed fat on them through perverse sexual appetites. What Yarima is doing is shameful and the fact that he uses his faith to justify it makes it even more reprehensible. May God have mercy on him and those that supoport and encourage him.
“Finally I say kudos to the beautiful, tough, cerebal and articulate Khaddiya Ahmed who did an excellent job in this interview. In her we have our very own equivalent of Tim Sebastien and Steven Sackhur of BBC TV’s “Hardtalk”. I am very proud of her efforts”.