It’s not just poor, ignorant peasants in Yemen that are crossing the legal and moral line by marrying underage girls, one 49-year-old Nigerian Senate Minority Whip and former Governor has done the unthinkable (at least for an educated man with a Master’s degree) by wedding a 13-year-old Egyptian girl that he bought for $100,000 (£66,000. Ahmed Rufai Sani Yerima, was credited for establishing Shariah law in Zamfara, a north-western state in Nigeria that he governed from 1999 to 2007.
Problem is, this isn’t Yemen, or Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries that have no laws protecting child brides. Nigeria has laws banning marriage for anyone under the age of 18, and as a result, women’s rights activists pressured Senators to investigate the alleged marriage by petition.
The petition said the marriage violated Nigeria’s Child Rights Act of 2003, forbidding marriage with anyone under 18. The punishment is a 500,000 naira (£2,000) fine or a five-year jail term, or both.
The petition said that Nigeria was a signatory to the Unicef Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It urged the senate to investigate the allegations and to establish the name of the alleged child-bride, her age and the circumstances of her entry into Nigeria.
The groups also want the senate to “estabish the legality or otherwise of this action, considering the high personal status of Senator Yerima, his status in society as a lawmaker and leader and the negative effect of such acts on the image of Nigeria”.
The Senator has remained mum, in light of the allegations, but apparently he also married a 15-year-old several years ago. Women’s rights groups are demanding that he be fired, or that he resign, but they have been told they must take the issue to court.
…Chair of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, said at a briefing session yesterday that those opposed to Yerima’s marriage should go to court.
According to him, “It is not the responsibility of the Senate to begin to investigate if he (Yerima) has broken the law. The Senate is not a law enforcement agency.”
It’s the usual old-boy network where men have a tendency to stand up for their own gender. And it’s typical that the ones advocating for the child marriage laws are mostly women.
What is wrong with a 49-year-old man who finds the need to marry and bed a child? Considering it’s against the law, he must truly be sick to buck the system. Regardless of whether they feel it is justified in Islamic law to marry an underage child, it is nothing more than pedophilia. And if lawmakers and politicians are allowed to break the law, why shouldn’t others. It will only make the problem worse.
Hopefully, the courageous women of Nigeria will file a lawsuit against Yerima and remove the man from a position of power. The young girls of Nigeria are lucky they have strong women advocating for them.