July 30, 2013 – My Take On Child Bride, Underage Marriage In Nigeria “I Laugh In Tears With Nigerian Senators”
This is my take on the supposed child’s marriage bill that recently generated loads of debate both on the media and internet.
I took a whole lot of my time to have a critical perusal at the activities of the senate on that faithful day, candidly speaking, I am so disappointed at the way the media fomented their emptiness married with the fact that our distinguished senators lacks in the dispensation of the constitutional duties as the present situation drags it to our notice that average of our elected senator don’t really bother about the merit or demerit of the bill they oppose or against in as much as it does not affect their monthly sittings allowance and other packages.
Firstly, I take a frown look at the despicable information the media fed us with under the disguise of FREEDOM OF INFORMATION. It should be noted herein that in the first world countries where the freedom of information are widely enjoyed, misinformation is also a criminal offence that attracts heavy punishment on the disseminator.
Secondly, for the lay minded, the controversial section 29 of the 1999 constitution is focused on renunciation of citizenship.
And the subsection (1) of the constitution states;
Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for renunciation.
The subsection (2) of the celebrated section states;
The president shall cause the declaration made under subsection (1) of this section to be registered and upon such registration shall cease to be a citizen of Nigeria.
Continuing, subsection (3) professes as follows;
The president may withhold the registration of any declaration made under subsection (1) of this section if a) The declaration is made during any war in which Nigeria is physically involved; or b) In his opinion, it is otherwise contrary to public policy.
Lastly, the over glorified subsection (4) now states;
For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section a) “full age” means the age of eighteen years and above;
b) Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.
From all indication, I take a solid stand on the side of this section and its subsections has nothing to do with marriage nor age at which a female child(ren) can enter into a marriage.
Nonetheless I share the view that it thus encourages child’s marriage.
With due respect to the norm that gave birth to the 1999 constitution, the dead law was totally silence on the ground at which a person can renounce his citizenship, in the like manner, it is right to say that our 1999 constitution breaks the gene for renunciation.
At this juncture, I applaud though for the first time the uniform men imposed constitution. Since the commencement of the fourth republic, Nigeria state cannot frankly state that she has provided a constitution that truly justify the fallacy of “we the people” the preamble of the CFRN 1999 committed. Therefore, in my humble view I see the various attempts to amend the 1999 constitution by the national assembly as an attempt to place a new wine in an old bottle or patching an old sick cloth with new one.
In the course of bringing alive the truly “we the people” constitution, the upper chamber
thought it worthwhile to take a holistic approach of the military given constitution, forthwith the section 29 (4)(b) sprung from a controversial pervert though distinguish senator.
At this juncture, I sat back, laugh and wept at the interpretation the long silently stayed subsection enjoyed by the people and media which is impari-materia with the intention of the distinguished pervert.
The subsection 4(b) is plain and unequivocal; therefore I object to it neither interpreted under the golden nor the mischief rule of interpretation. I forthwith subscribe to its literal meaning which is;
A woman who as not attain the “full age” (18 years) required by the constitution which is a conditional precedent for her to renounce her citizenship, but has gotten married can enjoy the status of “full age” for the sake of this section. Nothing more, nothing less.
It should be committed to memory, that the section as painted by the media does not in any way provides for the age at which a female child is due for marriage nor makes it a duty for parents to give out there child into marriage at a stipulated age.
It should be noted at this juncture, that presently the Nigerian legal system provided for two ways at which anyone can celebrate his or her marriage. It may either be in line with the customary law, or the statute. The statute specifically provides that parties that intends to enter into a marriage contract must have attain the age of major which is impari-materia with the constitutional provision of full age. On the other hand, the celebration of marriage under the customary laws practiced in Nigeria gives no specific age for a male child or a female child to enter into a marriage. Frankly speaking, Ago-Iwoye where I stayed as undergraduate you will see a girl of 14-15 years old being proud to be mother of 2 or 3. Therefore, we leaving the material and fighting the immaterial is a mere chasing of shadow, because our archaic and ancient customary practice that should not be mate with the 21st century are what we should compel to pass through the fire of repugnancy test.
In the simplest term, it is the minor who found her way through the customary way of celebration of marriage that can benefit under the over glorified subsection 4(b). At this stage you will agree with me that before subsection 4(b) can be set on motion, the minor must have gained the status of woman under the customary law. Now you will see that subsection 4(b) is a mere effect of the cause of customary law. Leaving the customary laws that gives out our infants in marriage day-in day-out and fighting the subsection 4(b) is what I call misrepresentation of pet cat for a lion cat. Now if we compel these customary laws to go through the repugnancy test and they fail, then the door opened for minor to go into marriage be it at will or by force will be close and the subsection 4(b) which is the effect will die a natural death.
However, the subsection 4(b) that is our object of debate though silence, but has enjoyed a very long stay in our constitution has neither the upper chamber nor the lower chamber could notice it doing their various amendments before their attention was called to it by our distinguished SENATOR YERIMA.
It should be recalled from memory that the distinguished senator is a sexually perverted man whose sexual life is focused on infants and immediately lay them off at the attainment of the age of major, got engaged with a teen in Egypt sometimes in 2011 after gotten divorced to another teen immediately preceding her age of major, has since 1999 creates loads of controversial occurrence that various human right organization as challenged in their capacities.
The senator having called the attention of other senators to the subsection 4(b) the chamber has to go by the way of voting as provided for by the constitution. The constitution provides that the 2/3 majority of the total house shall have the power to alter the constitution, now the total member of that house is 109, the 2/3 is 76, the total number of senators that voted in support that the subsection should be expunge is 60, and the senators that voted NO that the subsection should continue its silent stay under the constitution are numbered 36. In the light of the above, 16 votes is needed to the existing vote to get the section into recycle bin.
In light of the above, what the senators exercised is plainly their constitutional duty, and the required vote is not gotten, so the section should continue its stay until the condition for its delete is finally met.
It seriously amused me as the media tainted the activity of the chamber when they disseminated that the chamber passed a law in support of child marriage, please I havea question, is the section a new section under the constitution? What is the relationshipof that section with marriage and when a female child can enter into a marriage?
At this point, I challenge the media to go out and sort for more good news worthy stories as their misinformation is alarming lately.
Back to our senators, I laugh with tears when the constituency members of SENATORAKINFULIRE AYO (A.K.A ALLOVER) of labour party summoned him, to come give the detail why he chose to oppose the removal of that section, instead of him seat them down and explain in detail what actually transacted in the chamber, he went into tear like a baby and gave flimsy excuses that does not hold water.
”I am sorry, I voted in error, I never meant to support female child marriage, I wanted to press YES when I mistakenly press NO”
Imagine that from a senator of federal republic of Nigeria. It marks the type of senators we elected, senators that don’t know when to press YES and NO, dumb head senators that less care about the bill they pass in as much as it does not affect their monthly sitting alliances and other juicy packages. Anyway, a message for them, our vote is much stronger than bullet, come 2015 we make a better change.
Summarily, my freelance thought is simulacrum to the fact that the publicity the media gave the activity of the upper chamber that day is somewhat more than required and the despicable and worrisome act of some members of the senate is such a one that call for undiligent look from the international community.
[Article written by ABIMBOLA ADENIYI OLUWAFEMI]