Interpol investigates money power senator over marriage to 13-year old

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Ahmed Yerima
Ahmed Yerima

An international investigative unit has waded into the issue of marriage to a minor by a law maker in Nigeria, Senator Ahmed Yerima to face a panel of international investigators over his decision to take as wife a 13 year old Egyptian whom he married paying $100000 as price for the bride.

Interpol has waded in to  investigate the  accusation of the unlawful child marriage.

A state human rights body said on Thursday that it has given the interpol an all clear lead to start the investigation..

“The Interpol has contacted (its own) National Central Bureau in Lagos to furnish it with relevant information concerning the case of unlawful child marriage by … Ahmed Yerima,” the National Human Rights Commission said in a statement.

Yerima, 49, is accused of illegally taking the 13-year-old girl from Egypt to Nigeria as his wife contrary to the Child Rights Act of 2003, the statement said.

Nigerian law forbids marriage to anyone under 18.

The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), in a letter to the executive secretary of the rights commission, Rowland Ewubare, thanked the body for bringing the matter to its attention.

Interpol said the issue has been transmitted to the competent police directorate within the general secretariat for appropriate follow-up, the statement said.

Investigators at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) last May questioned Yerima, ex-governor of Muslim-dominated Zamfara State in the northwest, about his marriage.

NAPTIP has submitted its recommendations for prosecution of the case to the justice minister.

Earlier this month, a Nigerian Islamic group, the Registered Trustees of Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, sought a court order to restrain any government agency from interfering with the rights of the senator.

Yerima has slammed the Nigerian Child Rights Act, saying it “must have been enacted in error”.

The lawmaker said that he and his government had rejected the law when he was Zamfara state governor between 1999 and 2007.

Zamfara was the first among around a dozen mainly-Muslim northern states to re-introduce the strict Islamic code, the Sharia law, on Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999.

The Nigerian Senate has ordered a probe into the child marriage.

Yerima paid a $100 000 dowry to the girl’s family before marrying her.

If convicted, he faces a 500 000 naira fine or five years in jail or both, NAPTIP officials said. – Sapa-AFP