By Amaka Akachukwu
On July 16th 2013, 35 Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria voted in favor of legalizing child marriages by essentially legitimizing child marriages by establishing that any girl younger than 18 is automatically mature enough to handle the responsibilities and realities of marriage by virtue of her involvement in the act of marriage itself. In that meeting, though majority of the senate members voted against it, the total result fell short of the total requirements for the amend of the Constitution.
Hence, Nigeria’s Senate failed to remove the clause in the constitution which legitimizes child marriage.
Former Zamfara state governor Senator Ahmed Yerima is a strong believer of that constitution. Sen. Ahmed Yerima this year was strongly against the deletion of the section of the 1999 constitution which pegged the official marriage age in Nigeria as 18 year, saying it was anti-Islam.
The senator is in the news again and this time, news making waves is that Senator Yerima and four men said to be members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly were in Egypt few weeks ago for the wedding of a new bride.
In 2010, Sen. Yerima married a 14- year-old Egyptian girl named Marian as his fourth wife. That act caused uproar in Nigeria.
The senator divorced his fourth wife Marian who is now 17 and a mother of one to marry his brand new 15-year-old bride Fathia.
Child marriage is an institution that infringes upon the rights and freedoms, and damages the health and autonomy, of young girls. If Nigerian citizens want to protect young girls, they must stand against child marriage and call on their Senators and Representatives to do so too, beginning by removing this legitimization of child marriage in our constitution.