Nigeria’s Senator Sanni Ahmed Yerima’s who adopted a 13- year old minor as fourth wife recently may have committed a criminal child trafficking offence and his action tantamount to the purchase of a victim of child trafficking which is seriously against International law, according to sources. Already, UN charter forbids child marriage.
His minor wife has fallen within the circle of ‘slave’ batter, having exchange the minor for a whopping $100,000, given to the girls family before spending more to formalise the exchange.
Two top United Nations officials have condemned Sani Ahmed Yerima’s marriage to the 13-year old Egyptian girl, calling it a sale of a child and against acceptable international practices and relevant conventions of the UN, Empowered Newswire reports.
Speaking on the matter at the UN on Tuesday afternoon were Hilde Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children.
According to the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director based on the age of the girl and the involvement of a dowry paid by the Nigerian senator, the marriage of the 13 year old girl is known under UN and international conventions as a “child marriage,” contravening the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child.
Nigeria is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child and the convention became the Child Rights Act in Nigeria in 2003.
A recent effort in February this year to repeal the Act at the House of Representative failed.
Joined by the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the top UN officials were launching a renewed media campaign on the Convention on the Rights of the Child which was adopted 20 years ago and also advocating for the universal adherence to the convention’s two Optional Protocols.
Ms Johnson’s colleague, Santos Pais added that Mr Yerima’s wedding will in fact qualify as “a child sale” based on the appropriate international and UN protocols on Children conventions.
Empowered Newswire raised the question on Mr Yerima twice at the UN headquarters, once at the regular press briefing addressed by the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary General Martin Nesirky and later at the press briefing panel addressed by Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy,
Ms Johnson, who first expressed dissatisfaction with the child marriage, said Mr Yerima’s action “is in contradiction to the Convention of the Rights of the Child.” “This is not in accordance with the international convention and hence on several occasions from the UNICEF’s side we have expressed our grief concern with child marriage and with practices of marrying children away in this way, which is very often forced,” she said.
Marriage against international law
The UNICEF official said child marriages are not permitted under the international convention “because they- the children so married- are not in the position as a grown up and adults to take a position on this important issue.” Affirming the UN’s condemnation Johnson restated that “this is against the convention of the rights child,” and warned that “we will be very clear that this kind of practices will need to stop.” Ms Pais added that the Senator’s marriage to an under-age “will also fall under the protocol we are talking about, because it will be a case of sale of a child, given the receiving of compensation a particular amount of money.”
Some 132 countries had ratified the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, especially on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and of those that had not done so, many were island States with small armies, according to the UN officials.
Nigeria is also believed to have signed the protocol. But the UN is seeking an outright universal adoption, according to Ms. Coomaraswamy because “Universality implies a moral consensus, and a moral consensus is then the basis of customary law and standards.