Four Senators have led a group of Nigerian women into the nation’s Senate house upper chambers in protest against a colleague who acquired a thirteen year old Egyptian minor as his fourth wife.
Ex-governor of Zamfara State, in Northern Nigeria, Ahmed Sani Yeriman Bakura, now a Senator in the nation’s House of Senate had paid a bride price of $100,000, to buy off the Egyptian family.
He also divorced one of his wives to facilitate a space for his new bride as the Islamic law only permits for four wives at a time.
Egyptian law forbids such a relationship because Bakura is well into his 60s and the laws in Egypt consider his bride a minor and would not have been allowed his spoilt due to laid down rules which forbid that sort of union.
But Yariman Bakura exploited Nigeria’s laxity and ineffective rule of law enforcement by shifting the traditional solemnisation of the marriage according to Muslim injunction by moving the ceremony to Nigeria and the marriage was solemnised at the national mosque, Abuja, Nigeria according to Islamic rites.
The former helmsman of Zamfara State, however, in a deft move relocated the venue of the event to Nigeria, where he believes “anything goes”,
The bride moved 30 members of her family over to Abuja where they were lodged in the top PROTEA Hotel in Asokoro area of Abuja with all expenses paid for by the ex- governor.
In attendance to celebrate in Nigeria ‘s end were Yarimans close associates including Sen. Kabiru Gaya, Maina Maaji Lawal, deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mukhtar Hanka, and the Emir of Bakura.
There had been national and international outcry as human right activists and women right protagonists stood up to decry Yariman’s exploits calling it disgraceful and an act of child abuse.
On Wednesday, four lady –Senators from the floor of the House of Senate joined a group of protesting women from various women organisation in Nigeria calling for the suspension of Senator Yariman from the House of Senate until the 13-year old bride was returned to his parents in Egypt.
Senator Chris Anyawu and three other colleagues walked angrily to meet Senate Leader David Mark to hand over the women protesters message that the child abuse senator should be suspended from the floor of the house.
“It is really painful that those who should protect us all as law makers are those that are abusing the laws of the land”, one of the leading protesters told a AIT reporter.
The National Council of Women Societies in Nigeria has condemned the action Yariman’s action describing it as a shameful and degrading exploit.
Speaking through its National President, Hajia Ramatu Usman, the umbrella women’s organisation said Sani’s action did not come to Nigerian women as a surprise because, according to them, many northern governors had been using religion as an excuse for not passing the Child Rights Act.
She further stated that the council had been mounting a campaign against young girls being given out for marriage at ridiculously early ages of 12 or 13 years, adding that the action was against all reasoning.
Of more concern were moral and medical implication of the governors action as early committal of a thirteen year old into marriage constituted serious health danger.
According to Usman, “Vesico vaginal fistula has been attributed to under age marriages due to the practice of early marriages in Nigeria, where young girls are given out for marriage at ridiculously early ages as 12 or 13 years.
They get pregnant and when they are ready to deliver, their pelvises are so small for the babies to pass through.
“The baby gets stuck in the birth canal and in some cases dies. The baby’s head wears a hole between the birth canal and the bladder (VVF) or rectum (RVF).
“So, when the dead baby is eventually delivered, the young mother is left with a dead child and she begins to drain urine and/or stool continuously. She develops sores on her skin and smells horribly from the constant drips of urine and stool on her clothes.”
The body therefore advised parents to avoid giving out their under age daughters in marriage in order to check cases of this health risk, which it said is particularly common in the northern part of Nigeria.
The statement further said, “It is a shame that while we are seeking ways to view closely what pushes parents into giving out their underage daughters into early marriages, a former governor of a state is celebrating this act of child trafficking and abuse.”
It also called on well-meaning Nigerians to mount pressure on northern governors to immediately commence work on the Child Rights Act.
*Senate House committee now probes Senator Sanni Yeriman Bakura
By Ben Agande, Vanguard
ABUJA— THE Senate, Wednesday, began the formal probe of one of its members, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, over his alleged marriage to a 13-year old Egyptian minor with a charge on its committee on Ethics and Privilege as well as Public Petitions to investigate the matter.
This followed the presentation against the senator by the National Human Rights Commission challenging the marriage which it said violates the laws of the land.
Senator Eme Ekaette, PDP, Akwa Ibom, who submitted the petition on behalf of the National Human Rights Commission came under Order 41 of the Senate standing Rules.
Senator Ekaette said the petition was from the National Human Rights Commission adding that about 10 women groups addressed it to her as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youths.
As she made to expatiate on the petition, the Senate President, David Mark, directed her to lay the report on the table, after which he referred it to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions.
Senator Mark said the Ethics Committee was free to invite other committees if they needed assistance.
With the formal presentation of the petition to the Senate, the contentious issue of Senator Yerima’s marriage to a minor was no longer the personal affair of the senator.
It would be recalled that a coalition of women groups including the Medical Women Association of Nigeria, MWAN, Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, WRAPA, and the Global Association of Female Attorneys, GAFA, led by Dr. Mma Wokocha had, Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly to protest the child marriage.
While calling on the Senate to suspend the senator, the group also called on Senator Yerima’s constituents to begin his recall from the National Assembly.
Dr. Wokocha said: “The people who are supposed to be guarding the nation are the ones breaking the rules. Hitherto, Nigeria had hidden under the guise of Islam or Christianity but the issue in question is the marriage of a minor.
“Maybe because of poverty, he brought this little girl to Nigeria to complete the marital rites. We are calling on Senator Yerima to resign because this is not the first time. We learnt that another girl that he had married while she was 15 years and recently divorced has just clocked 17 years.”
NAPTIP invites Yerima for questioning
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Person, NAPTIP, yesterday, invited Senator Sani Yerima for interrogation.
In a statement in Abuja, the agency said the invitation was in compliance with section 5 and 58 (b) of NAPTIP Act 2003 and 2005 as amended.
The statement signed by Orakwue Arinze, head of Press and Public Relations said: “The National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters has invited Senator Ahmed Yerima, the former Governor of Zamfara State for an interview over an alleged case which the agency is investigating presently.
“The matter which is not unconnected with the alleged Senator Yerima’s marriage to under-aged Egyptian girl of 13 years, is of great concern to the agency and has attracted a consequential negative image for the country