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A WEAK STATE BEGETS WEAK INSTITUTIONS

A WEAK STATE BEGETS WEAK INSTITUTIONS
Nigeria is by no means an unpopular member in the comity of states often characterised as a weak state. Her weak status is fast taking a new turn- a turn that is plausible to earning her a super trophy- a failed state gold medal. In Nigeria, aside corruption and inefficiency, nothing else works. Just like the Nigerian state, the institutions within it are receding while corruption and inefficiency are gaining continued ascendency.
A popular saying that has it that; no institution within a given state can develop more than what obtains in such state has just been put to yet another test in Nigeria. This test was conducted, the result released and the outcome proved the empirical soundness of this argument.
Evidently, the Nigerian immigration service is notable in the arena of institutions replicating the weak status of the superstructure that established it. Her very recent recruitment examination exercise that was held on 15th March, 2014 (an examination that never was) which ended as a debacle lends credible weight to this fact.
Through the March 15th event which resulted into the death of no fewer than 18 applicants; The Nigerian Immigration Service for not exercising the duty of care, displayed; criminal negligence, lack of organization and crass ineptitude in conducting a successful mass examination-an examination that was actually paid for by the applicants. One thousand naira, yes it was and yes a stipend, but many revolved their hope of getting jobs around the same stipend one thousand naira charged by NIS as application fee- a dashed hope as it later became apparent. By its ill-arranged recruitment exercise, the Nigerian Immigration Service rubbed the already lean pockets of the Nigerian unemployed/underemployed youths.
As it was gathered, no fewer than 520,000 candidates applied out of which only 4,556 are going to be employed. This staggering number of applicants is nothing but a reflection of unemployment/underemployment in the country. For 4,556 jobs; one would have expected a well meaning institution to embark on the sales of not more than 20,000 forms out of which credible 4,556 candidates would be taken (if at all selection is going to be based on merit) through a properly conducted examination and in a conducive atmosphere. It cannot then be a misnomer to plunge into the assertion that the ostensible reason for conducting the examination was nothing but to justify the money collected. But the question is; has it been justified? Or how can people be taken based on merit in an examination held in stadia across the country and what manner of exam is conducted in such an environment?
The recorded failure and loss resulting from the exercise was not unavoidable given the fact that the institution was not ill-informed about the number of people that applied. The use of stadia across the country goes to show that NIS was not uninformed about the number of applicants to be present at each recruitment venues. More so, sales of forms ended September 2013 and exam was conducted March 2014; meaning the NIS had ample time of not fewer than 5 months to properly plan and map out the recruitment exercise.
The avoidable stampede was because certain people didn’t do their job well. In developed clime, people like Abba Moro and David Parradang, (the Interior Minister and the Comptroller General of NIS respectively) need not be told that the termination of their appointment was imminent. Until we start engaging People in position of authority aggressively and intellectually; until we start asking relevant questions, we are doomed to remain where we are.
The Nigerian crisis has gone beyond lamentation. We need to take our own destinies into our own hands. Rather than acting as class-in-itself (class of people who only complain about the existing situation but refuse to do something about it), we need to start acting as class-for-itself (class of people who do not only complain but also ready to change the status quo).

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THE CHILD MARRIAGE QUESTION IN NIGERIA

BY ALABI ABOLAJI TOHEEB

(toheebus@yahoo.com)

INTRODUCTION

Just as it is a historic fact that girls from 9-14 were being married in Europe, Asia, and Africa, the same holds true even in the United states about two centuries ago1. In more recent times, Child marriages have become the fad in many Islamic countries, with utmost prevalence in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.2 A UNICEF study from 2000 to 2008 has it that more than 43 percent of women in Afghanistan were married underage3, some of which even marry before puberty despite the country’s law against child brides. The 2010 progress report to the United Nations on HIV in Malaysia shows that 32 girls under the age of 10, and 445 girls between the ages of 10 and 14(in 2009 alone)went through pre-marital HIV screening in order to get married.4

With its ongoing constitutional amendment, Nigeria is at the heart of writing itself into the membership of nations where child marriage is legalised. The crux being the National Assembly’s resolve to expunge the controversial section 29 (4) (b) of the constitution which states that “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age”5 . It need be stated here from the outset that the clause in question deals with renunciation of citizenship but the clause is an implicit endorsement of child marriage meaning a nine-year-old who is married, is deemed to be of full age; a provision which has for long been in the constitution, but unknown to millions of Nigerians.

The resolve to expunge this latent ill later became a misadventure, given the feeble vote against the removal of the said section. As it was gathered, 60 Senators (less than 2/3 majority) voted for its removal as against 73 required votes; while 35 voted for its retention, 6 implicitly, making possible paedophilic marriages.

Although Northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, where half of all girls are married by the age of 157, a resolution to retain such in the constitution is a relatively new development. Consequently, the resolution, as masterminded by Senator Sani Yerima, has aggravated mixed reactions from the public. And to many political observers, Pandora’s Box has been opened yet again. Evidently, the child marriage question has been quite controversial, as there are no consensual opinions on the subject matter. The advocates of the bill have advanced religious claim to reinforce their position,  particularly on the note that in Islam a child is said to be of full age upon the attainment of puberty, and against the backdrop that Prophet Mohammed consummated Nana Aisha at age 9 (even though controversial)38.

To the critics in contra-distinction, the resolution to retain the said section is seen as a desperate bid on the part of the Muslim north or Islamists, to foist the hegemony of Islam (as it relates to marital prescription) on a country that is supposed to be secular in nature and one fast drifting towards child right campaign as well as advocacy. Given this fact, the amendment is seen in a bad light and has resultantly reaped a whirlwind of adverse publicity as tagged #ChildnotBride. But does Islam really support the marriage of a child as low as age 9?

It is against the backdrop of the foregoing that this discourse raises some fundamental questions as: what does Islam say about child marriage? To what extent can the retention of section 29 (4) (b) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution breach other Charters or Acts to which she is a signatory? And what are the consequences of child marriage?

CHILD MARRIAGE: A CONTESTED CONCEPT

Child marriage is a reality for both boys and girls, although girls are disproportionately the most affected. But who is a child?

The concept “Child” defies itself of one single definition. As such, there is the biological, legal and social conception of it.

Biologically, a child is a human between the stages of birth and puberty8. This definition suggests that any one from the stage of puberty and above is no longer a child and any one below puberty is a child.

Socially, Child may also describe a relationship with a parent (such as sons and daughters of any age).9

Legally, a child refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person under a certain age – usually the age of majority – which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood10. The legal age bracket for childhood varies from one country to the other. In countries like Australia, India, Philippines, Brazil, Canada and Colombia, a minor is defined as a person under the age of 18. While in Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan, a minor is someone under 20 years of age. Physical maturity (attainment of puberty) in either sex establishes majority age in most Islamic countries as there is a difference of opinion in the legal schools about the exact age. In the case of doubt, a statement by the person that he or she has reached PUBERTY is adequate. In England, Whales and Northern Ireland a minor is a person under the age of 18 while a person under 16 is said to be a minor in Scotland.11, 12, 13, 14

The search for a consensus definition of child marriage is quite a herculean task, given the above variation in the conception of childhood in different countries. For a child/minor in Japan is an adult in Canada or elsewhere.

Nonetheless, the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as “anyone under the age of 18 unless adulthood is legally attained earlier under the applicable country law”15. Given this definition; Child marriage has come to be seen in recent times as marriage of someone below 18, although it is seen as a Western conception in Islamic circles.

Child marriage is most common in South Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa, but there are big differences in its prevalence among countries of the same region57. Where prevalent, child marriage functions as a social norm. It is rooted in gender discrimination, giving preference to boys’ education. Child marriage is also a strategy for economic survival as families marry off their daughters at an early age to reduce their economic burden. And in some cases, it is done to protect their virginity or the family’s honour, or to increase the child’s exchange value.

 

ISLAM AND CHILD MARRIAGE

There is no such place in the Quran where age restriction is placed on marriage; same holds true even in the Bible16,17, apparently because maturation vary from one individual to the other and from one environment to the other as well. But in Islam, there are indications that age of marriage exists (although not in years) and there are also indications that children or a child will have to come of age (puberty) before marrying (see Quran 4:6 and 24:59 respectively) .The noble Quran recognises three ages; Childhood Age, Age of Strength and Old Age (see quran 40:67, 60:142, 17:34 and 22:5) and the marriageable age is tied to puberty-age of full strength and sound judgement.18

Many have forwarded Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) experience with Nana Aisha to advance the claim for the legality of child marriage in Islam. However, study shows rather conflicting claims as to the age the Prophet (PBUH) consummated Nana Aisha. The most prominent of records is the one advanced that Nana Aisha was engaged at 6 and was consummated at 9, as encapsulated in Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, and Number 234:

As Narrated (sic):

“The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became All right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.”Then she entrusted me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle   came to me in the afternoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.”19

Apparently, it is against this backdrop that the Nigerian Senators, chiefly, the Northerners canvassed for the retention of section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 constitution, claiming it is Islamically legal to engage a minor.

It must be noted that most of the information regarding Nana Aisha’s consummation at age 9 has come from a single person, Hisham bin Urwah20. Thus, this Hadith is primarily a single Hadith.  In general, a Hadith has more credibility if it is narrated by more people independently from diverse chains of narrators (ibid). In this case, there is basically only one source. Beyond this, it has been gathered that all the narrators of this Hadith were Iraqis. In this light, Yaqub ibn Shaibah is reported to have said, “narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq“21. It is reported that Hisham bin Urwah’s memory suffered in his later years to the extent that some of the traditions reported from Hisham bin Urwah could not be trusted for authenticity.22

Further findings however, reveal that the Prophet (PBUH) did not consummate Nana Aisha until age 19. In this regard, evidences have been put forward to reinforce their claim. Many narratives indicate that Nana Aisha participated in the battles of Badr and Uhud23. It is gathered that no one older than 15 was allowed to accompany the Prophet’s army in the battle of Uhud. This applied across the board to all participants, men and women alike24. The battle of Uhud took place around the 2nd Hijrah, a timeline close to her marriage with the Prophet- which means she was at least older than 15 at that time.

In “Book of Islamic History”, Volume 4, page number 50 Ibn Jazeer al- Tabari writes that Abu Bakr married two ladies in the pre-Islamic period. Fateelah, daughter of Abd al- Aza was the first and Unm- l- Roomon was the second, to whom Abd al- Rahmon and Nana Aisha were born in the pre-Islamic period. The pre-Islamic period ended in 610 A.D, a fact that makes Ayesha to be at least 14 years of age at the time of her marriage around 613-624 A.D.25 In consonance with this, Sheik Waheed- ud- Deen in his book ‘Ahmal fi Asma-al- Rajia’ stated thus:

“At the time of the consummation of her marriage Syeda Nana Aisha’s age was not less than 18-19 years”.26

It was also gathered that Nana Aisha, was 10 years younger than her sister Asmaa, and that Asmaa was 27 years old when she was helping her father and the Prophet (PBUH) in their migration to Medina, which makes Nana Aisha 17 years old at Hijra27. It is also known that the Prophet (PBUH) married her at the year 2 A.H which makes her 19 on her wedding. The list of possible instances to buttress the position of Islam on child marriage has not been exhausted. In this regard, a manual by Al-Azhar, the highest religious body in the Sunni world gives a report as it relates to the rights of Muslim children, stating that:

“Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married”28

This ongoing analysis finds it useful to rely on the above quoted report from Al-Azhar. It draws from its position that PUBERTY and MATURITY are central to the rules guiding marriage in Islam. In view of this, it’s quite untenable that Islam supports child marriage as claimed by many, particularly given the tie between marriage and puberty cum maturity.

As defined by Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary (new 8th edition), “puberty is the period of a person’s life during which their sexual organs develop and they become capable of having children”. From this definition of puberty, it doesn’t hold water that a girl of 6 is ripe for marriage, as it’s very unlikely that such child is capable of having children. Though the advocates of child marriage have argued that, the marriage to a minor does not necessarily translate into consummation at that given point and that sexual intercourse will only ensue upon the Child’s attainment of puberty29. Their position is faulty; given the condition that marriage is tied to the attainment of puberty and not sex.

Beyond this, most analyses have foreclosed the concept of ‘maturity’, as they tend to view marriage from the angle of sex and puberty alone, whereas puberty and maturity are two sides of a marriage coin. That a child has attained puberty does not mean she is matured to be engaged. In this light, MATURITY is said to be the quality of thinking and behaving in a sensible adult manner (Oxford Advanced Learner, New 8th Edition) .Given this definition, it’s incredible to believe that a child of 15 let alone a girl of 6 have the quality of thinking and behaving in a sensible adult manner. Accordingly, a child does not know about the intricacies of marriage and the burden of bearing a child, so also is the impossibility, for a child of say 6 or 9 to have achieved the level of wisdom so as to be able to take mature decision.

Although the definitions of adulthood are often inconsistent and contradictory a person may be biologically an adult, and have adult behaviour but still be treated as a child if they are under the legal age of Majority. Conversely, one may legally be an adult but possess none of the maturity and responsibility that may define adult character.

Nonetheless, the biological conception of a ‘child’ (i.e a child is a human between the stages of birth and puberty) lends credible weight to the argument that Islam doesn’t support child marriage. Given the biological fact that a child ceases to be a minor or becomes an adult upon the attainment of puberty; and the stage of puberty is the marriageable age in Islam.

Islam, no doubt encourages early marriage but that it encourages child marriage is a farce .The ostensible reasons  behind its encouragement of early marriage is not unconnected to the discouragement of such acts as fornication, adultery, prostitution, rape and other kinds of illicit acts. Despite the long history of prevalence of child marriage in the Northern part of Nigeria, the scourge of prostitution, fornication, adultery and rape cases has not abated as yet. As a matter of fact, it is increasingly thriving in recent times.30

That the Prophet (PBUH) married and consummated Nana Aisha at a tender age (even though controversial) is one thing, but that unrighteous men hide under such crest to further their cravings, fantasies, abuses and gains is another thing. There have been recorded cases, especially in Pakistan where daughters (some as young as 3) have been sold to others for personal gains – for ignoble reasons such as raising money for gambling, drinking, smoking and consuming drugs. In March 2004 in Sindh province, Pakistan, a man was charged with selling his 7 year old daughter to a 35 year old man for marriage.31 Also, in Barisel, Bangladesh, on 4th of September, 2009 a 75 year old money lender lookman Sykder was given 13 year old Akhiner in marriage, by her father, as payment for his unpaid loan of TK 4,000. 32

The spate of some Muslims around the world advancing Islamic grounds to support their ignoble and amoral acts is quite worrisome. Asides civilization and contemporary reality, most of their grounds have been quite untenable even in Islamic Jurisprudence. Their ignoble act has for long, made Islam to be seen in bad light. The ongoing terror of the Boko Haram group in Nigeria, speaks significantly useful in this regard. For instance, the Boko Haram sect has equated its ongoing terror campaign as Jihad and Islamic revivalism, but by no means can its victimization be equated to Jihad and revival of Islam33.  In view of this, and having to do with terrorism and suicide Bombings, a Pakistani Islamic jurist Sheik Muhammed Tahir-ul-Qadir stated that:

Just as good intention can never justify an unlawful act, and just as pious motives can never transform blasphemy into righteousness, similarly, the intention to perform jihad can never justify unlawful violence or make terrorism lawful. The intention to protect Islam against foreign aggression and avenge the wrongs and excesses inflicted upon the Muslim Umma is one thing, but the brutal mass murder of peaceful citizens, the destruction of property and the ruthless target killings are altogether different.34

CHILD MARRIAGE IN NIGERIA: THE BREACH

Nigeria is by no means ill-informed about the global campaign and advocacy against child marriage. As a matter of fact, she is signatory to a plethora of Child Rights Conventions, on domestic, regional, continental, and global levels. It is interesting to note that Nigeria, like most other countries, has ratified the United Nations convention on the Right of the child since 199135. Beyond this, Article 21(2) of the African charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child prohibits child marriage and betrothal. Also, article 6(b) of the African charter on Human and people’s Rights on the Rights of women in Africa, provides that, the minimum age of marriage for women is 18years.36 The country’s National policy on population also discourages parents from arranging marriages for girls under 18 years of age.61  Similarly, under the Nigerian civil law, forced marriage is illegal, and carry a jail term of seven years.62

In addition, section 21 of the Childs Rights Act of Nigeria forbids the marriage of persons below 18 years of age and imposes a punishment of #500,000 or a five year jail term37, although, it hasn’t been adopted by most of the northern states.

Given these facts, Nigeria has an obligation to give effect to these Convention, Charters, as well as domestic laws relating to Child Right cum marriage; she can therefore not derogate or detract from them by making or retaining contradictory municipal laws. To that extent, it would be expected that her constitution and policies would jealously guide as well as guard against any law emanating from any quarter whatsoever, which could jeopardize, impede and mar the present and future life of the Nigerian child.

At Present, Nigeria is at the brink of jeopardizing tangentially the Educational, Social,  Health and Psychological life of the Nigerian child with its resolution not to expunge section 29 (4) (b), which is tantamount to breaching the aforementioned Convention and Charters (if eventually included in the constitution).

CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD MARRIAGE

“Girls are engaged even at age five, but marriage may take place just four or five years later……Child brides feel happy with the new clothes and jewellery they get ahead of the wedding party. But later on, they pay a big price” (Omar, 2011).39

The above quoted remark shows that child marriage has its attendant consequences. In fact, child marriage is a hidden crisis. As such, it is pertinent to extensively illuminate its inherent consequences.

To Gordon Brown (2012), “ the fact that the victims of child marriage are overwhelmingly young, poor and female, makes their voices seldomly heard by government and their concerns do not register on the agenda of global summits”40.

A research conducted by UNICEF indicated that, girls who marry early often abandon formal education and become pregnant. The study shows that, maternal deaths related to pregnancy and child birth are an important component of mortality for girls aged 15-19 worldwide .41 The study also indicated that, the risk of death of an infant bore to a mother under age of 18 is 60 percent greater than that of an infant born to a mother older than 19. 42In addition even if the child survives, he or she is more likely to suffer from low birth weight, under nutrition and late physical and cognitive development.

In consonance with the above UNICEF findings, Ali, a Yemeni obstetrician cum gynaecologist stated that “Birth related complications are common among the under-age, many cases of child mothers under age 15 died in labour” .43

The Human Right Watch report (2011) on Yemen also indicated that girls being forced into marriage by their families have no control over whether and when to bear children and other important aspects of their lives. The report also stated that: “Marrying early cut short their education”44

Having stated ab initio that Northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, it is significantly instrumental to inquire into the consequences emanating therefrom. Findings in this regard indicate that the consequences have been devastating.  As gathered, Nigeria has the highest maternal mortality rate in Africa45and one of the highest rates of vesico vaginal fistula (VVF) which is particularly prevalent in northern Nigeria.VVF involves the “breakdown of tissue in the vaginal wall communicatinginto the bladder or rectum,”which often leads to urinary and/or fecal incontinence and, in some instances, can also result in the paralysis of the lower half of the body.59

In this light, it is reported that Dr Waaldijk, a Dutch surgeon and Fistula specialist based in Nigeria, operates on up to 1500 Fistula cases a year 46. While responding to the predisposing factors of high rate of fistula in Nigeria, Dr. Waaldijk remarked:

“They marry young, they get pregnant young, they deliver young and they pick up the fistula”53.

Evidently, Fistula condition occasions critical health and social trauma including overpowering urine, a condition which has made many women to be ousted from their communities and some divorced by their husbands. It is estimated that up to half of adolescent girls in northern Nigeria are divorced.54Given this devastating condition, Dr. Waaldijk added:

“If nothing is done the woman ends up crippled for life: medically, socially, mentally, and emotionally”55.

According to BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, cited by the Danish Immigration Service, there have been reports of young women escaping forced marriages in both the northern and southern parts of Nigeria (Jan. 2005, 27). Forced marriages, however, are most common in the Predominantly Muslim states in the north, particularly among the Hausa ethnic group.60  Arguably, most of the victims of child marriage have been forced into it. The union which usually ensue therefrom is often devoid of consent and acceptance- which are but the veritable conditions of marriage. A 2002 report on Women’s Human rights in Nigeria indicated that young girls forced into marriage is “one of the causes of prostitution in Northern Nigeria as the young girls flee their marital homes and take refuge in brothels in urban centres.”63   Hadiza’s response in an interview granted to Ramita in Kano captures this line of argument – a runaway bride found in a brothel housing young prostitutes who are runaway brides as well. She stated thus:

“I was married when I was 15 years old. I was forced into it.”56

According to 2005 Amnesty International (AI) report, in Nigeria, a girl who attempts to run away from her husband or his family risks “harsh punishment”( one of which includes “acid bath”).64 The report further states that girls who run away from their husbands are often unable to seek protection from their own family who arranged the marriage (ibid). Perhaps this explains why they seek solace in the brothel, eventually becoming prostitutes.

Perhaps, a case of child marriage in Chiniot, Pakistan, would best explain the legal implication of child marriage on Nigeria if section 29 (4) (b) is not deleted. In September 2011, a 12- year- old girl was given in marriage to an 85-year-old man in Chiniot. Rani was sold to her father’s rival for five acres of land, thus a blood debt. Langrana Station House Officer (SHO) Zafar Bhatti said that he had conducted a raid at the marriage ceremony but found no laws were broken. He stated, “I cannot arrest anyone here because the girl is an adult as per the law”48. Such is the situation Nigerians are likely to find themselves in.

 

  CHILD MARRIAGE IN NIGERRIA: PUBLIC RESPONSE

As expected, the retention of section 29 (4) (b) which tangentially implies the legalization of child marriage has resulted into public outrage and the response of the public tended towards an outcry of opposition to the Senate’s resolution, particularly given its hidden crisis and shattered consequences.

Responding to the implication of child marriage, Barrister Kaka speaks thus:

“The implication of child marriage on the society is that anybody can decide to behave irrationally to a girl. It is like legalising immorality, promoting promiscuity and forceful marriage”47

Expressing his concern, President Campaign for Democracy, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin stated that the decision of the Senate on the Child marriage law violates decency, as it exposes the girl-child to sexual violation by wayward men in the name of marriage at a time when the world is promoting education and combating health hazards.50

Not only the civil right activists and non-governmental organizations responded, some lawmakers, having realised the consequences of child marriage, expressed their concerns; some of whose response portrayed hope of possible deletion and some merely  a display of regret for making such costly mistake.

Visibly perturbed, Senator Ayo Akinyelure representing Ondo Central Senatorial District was quoted as saying:

“I am very sorry for this costly mistake. I actually voted in error. I pressed the “NO” button during the electronic voting session thinking that I was kicking against the early marriage. I can never support such barbaric and wicked bill. I am educated and I am representing a people who value education who are not only literate but highly exposed. I can never support a bill which is retrogressive in nature but will subject the girl child to pain and anguish”49

Similarly, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa of the Federal House of Representative stated that amendment will be made to that section of the constitution. She further stated that herself and some other members (Hon. Osagie Samson, hon. Yakubu Dagora, and hon. Raphael Nnana Igbokwue) of the lower house is already proposing a bill to seek deletion of the controversial section.51

The existence of these moderate responses notwithstanding, some have insinuated that  Sen. Yerima’s political ambition more than his religious conviction informed his role towards the retention of sec. 29 (4) (b) particularly against the backdrop that he married a 13-year-old Egyptian few years ago; an act which could likely stand as a clog in his wheel come 2015. As gathered, Sen. Yerima has been lobbying for Jonathan’s support in preparation for the 2015 election; a move which is not impossible to win him a ticket as Jonathan’s running mate given his (Yerima’s) popularity in the north, 58 though there is just little but no substantial evidence to reinforce this insinuation. As such, its authenticity cannot be relied upon as yet.

 

 

 

FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

The ongoing discourse, as it relates to child marriage in Nigeria, has been able to inquire into Islam and its take on child marriage. Subsequently, it unravels the attendant breach of other known Charters and Convention on Child Rights following the retention of section 29 (4) (b). And it finally establishes the consequences of child marriage.

The study finds that marriage in Islam is guided by some conditions and given these conditions, it is untenable that Islam supports child marriage as claimed in some quarters. The study finds the various accounts indicating the age at which Nana Aisha was consummated immensely controversial. To that extent, it calls on Islamic scholars to conduct an indepth study in that regard so as to clear all emanating misconceptions and controversies.

It further establishes that the resolution to retain the said Section is a breach to the United Nations Convention, African Charters and domestic laws on Child Rights. It calls on Nigerian Lawmakers to review its dangerous position and to desist from making or retaining laws that could mar the future of the Nigerian child as well as those which could tarnish the image of the country in the international arena.

Finally, having established that child marriages comes with debilitating consequences, it calls on parents and guardians to refrain from the act of encouraging child marriage because of their personal cravings or gains, beckoning on them to help protect the future of their wards.

If the consequences of child marriage alluded to in this analysis serve as a useful guide, then it is safe to conclude that  :

“Child marriage is destroying human potential and reinforcing gender inequalities on a global scale. It is subjecting young girls to elevated health risks that come with early pregnancy and child birth. It is reinforcing the subordination of women. And it is holding back progress toward the United Nations 2015 goal of universal primary education. Without educating girls who are not in school today and preventing them from marrying, we cannot ever hope to meet the Millennium Development Goals” (Gordon Brown, 2012).

 

 

NOTES

1 Aiman R, Child marriage is not allowed in Islam 7 June, 2012, http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/child-marriage-is-not-allowed-in-the-quran/d/9652(date accessed 29 July, 2013).

2 – Andrew B, Child Marriage in Afghanistan and Pakistan America Magazine, 11 March, 2002, http://americamagazine.org/node/145666  (date accessed 25 July, 2013).

3- Robert F,Girl, eight, sold to Afghan police officer as his bride London Evening Standard,  6 October, 2011  http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23995269-girl-eight-sold-as-bride-to-police-officer.do&date=2011-10-08(date accessed 28 July, 2013).

4 Zainah A,Nothing divine in child marriage -Sisters in Islam,http://www.sistersinislam.org.my/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=996&Itemid=1(date accessed 27 July,2013).

5 See section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 Nigerian constitution.

6 Vanguard Reporters, Child marriage not in conformity with Nigerian Law Vanguard, 27 July, 2013,   http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/child-marriage-not-in-conformity-with-nigerian-law/(date accessed 28 July, 2013).

7 Nigeria Child Brides-Broken Lives Times online, 28 November, 2008http://www.wunrn.com/news/2008/11_08/11_24_08/112408_nigeria.htm(date accessed 27 July,2013).

8 See ‘Child’https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child(date accessed 30 July, 2013).

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11See‘Minor’http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_(law)#United_Kingdom(date accessed 30 July, 2013).

12 Ibid.

13 Islam –http://www.faqs.org/childhood/In-Ke/Islam.html(date accessed 30 July, 2013).

14See‘Minor’http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_(law)#United_Kingdom (date accessed 30 July, 2013).

15  IWHC, Child Marriage: Girls 14 and Younger At Riskhttp://www.iwhc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3487&Itemid=629(date accessed 28 July, 2013).

16 Jonathan T,Saudi Cleric: Islam Has No Minimum Age For Marriage 15 July, 2011, http://jonathanturley.org/2011/07/15/saudi-cleric-islam-has-no-minimum-age-for-marriage/(date accessed 27 July 2013).

17  EBUN S, Early marriage is exploitation – Bishop Olawuyi, Vanguard, 27 July, 2013, http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/early-marriage-is-exploitation-bishop    (date accessed 27 July, 2013).

18 See (Quran 4:6, 24:59,40:67, 60:142, 17:34 and 22:5).

19 Sahih al Bukhsri, Volume 5, Book 58 Number 234

20 Abdul H. Fauq ,Did Prophet Muhammad marry a 6 year old?Quran TodaySeptember 24, 2010 http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2010/09/did-prophet-muhammad-marry-6-year-old.html(date accessed 27 July, 2013).

21- Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani , ‘Tehzibu’l-tehzib’,  Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet (PbuH), vol 11, pg 48 – 51.

22- Al-Zahbi , ‘Mizanu’l-ai`tidal’, by, Arabic, a book on the life sketches of the narrators of the Hadith, Al-Maktabatu’l-athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol 4, pg 301.

23 Abdul H. Fauq ,Did Prophet Muhammad marry a 6 year old? Quran Today September 24, 2010 http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2010/09/did-prophet-muhammad-marry-6-year-old.html(date accessed 28 July, 2013).

24 ibid

25 Al-Tabari , ‘Tarikhu’l-umam wa’l-mamlu’k’ , Arabic, Dara’l-fikr, Beirut, 1979. , Vol 4, Pg 50.

26 Aiman R, Child marriage is not allowed in Islam 7 June, 2012, http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/child-marriage-is-not-allowed-in-the-quran/d/9652(date accessed 29 July, 2013).

27 See Al-Zahabi,  ‘A`la’ma’l-nubala’, , Arabic, Mu’assasatu’l-risalah, Beirut, 1992, Vol 2, Pg 289.

28 Zhafar K, Are Child Marriages allowed in Islam? http://www.islamawareness.net/Marriage/Child/childmarriages.html   (date accessed 27 July, 2013).

28 Sam S, An Examination of Muhammad’s Marriage to a Prepubescent Girl And Its Moral Implicationshttp://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/prepubescent.htm(date accessed 27 July, 2013).

29 JOHN A,In Islam, a girl can marry once she starts menstruation-Yerima, Punch 27 July, 2013 http://www.punchng.com/politics/inislam-a-girl-can-marry-once-she-starts-menstruation-ahmed-sani/  (date accessed 27 July, 2013).

30Nigeria Child Brides-Broken Lives Times online, 28 November, 2008http://www.wunrn.com/news/2008/11_08/11_24_08/112408_nigeria.htm(date accessed 27 July,2013).

31  Usman N,- Nazim, NGO, police intervene to stop child marriage- Daily Times Pakistan, 17 April, 2008.

31 Delcan W, Child brides used to settle Pakistan feud, Guardian UK, 5 June, 2008Guardian UK: 15 child brides used to settle Pakistan feud, by Declan Walsh in Islamabad (Pakistan); Thursday June 5 2008 (date accessed 27 July 2013).

31 Giraldus C, Muslim Child Bride for Sale, Western Resistance Pakistan, 17 April, 2006.

32 Rafiqul I, Loan shark’s awful act DailyStar, 13 september,2009 http://archive.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=105631(date accessed 29 July, 2013).

33 Onapajo H. & Uzodike U, Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria, African Security Review, 21.3, 2012, p. 25.

34 See Onapajo H, Uzodike U &Whetho A, Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria: The international dimension, South African Journal of International Affairs, 19.3, 2012, p. 342.

35 United Nations Treaty Collections http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en(date accessed 30 July, 2013).

36 Underage Marriage: It’s Not Over for All over – Akinyelure, Thisdaylive http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/underage-marriage-it-s-not-over-for-allover-akinyelure/154654/(date accessed 30 July, 2013).

37 Sherif B, Fayemi, Groups Condemn Senate’s Position on Underage Marriage Law  Thisdaylive 19 July, 2013, http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/fayemi-groups-condemn-senate-s-position-on-underage-marriage-law/153781/  (date accessed 27 July 2013).

38-JOHN A, In Islam, a girl can marry once she starts menstruation-Yerima, Punch 27 July, 2013http://www.punchng.com/politics/in-islam-a-girl-can-marry-once-she-starts-menstruation-ahmed-sani/ (date accessed 27 July 2013).

39 IRIN, YEMEN: Unrest puts child marriage issue on back burner http://www.irinnews.org/report/94517/, 22 December, 2011 (date accessed 28 July, 2013).

40 Gordon B, How to tackle the child marriage crisis, 9 March, 2012 http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/03/09/how-to-tackle-the-child-marriage-crisis/  (date accessed 27 July 2013)

41 Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse http://www.UNICEF.org/protection/57929_58008.html  (date accessed 27 July 2013).

42 Ibid.

43 IRIN, YEMEN: Unrest puts child marriage issue on back burnerhttp://www.irinnews.org/report/94517/, 22 December, 2011 (date accessed 28 July 2013.

44 Ibid.

45 Nigeria Child Brides-Broken Lives Times online, 28 November, 2008http://www.wunrn.com/news/2008/11_08/11_24_08/112408_nigeria.htm(date accessed 27 July,2013).

46 Waaldijk K ,  http://waha-international.org/?internalpage=532&dr.-kees-waaldijk(date accessed 29 July, 2013).

47 Child marriage not in conformity with Nigerian Law Vanguard, 27 July, 2013,   http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/child-marriage-not-in-conformity-with-nigerian-law/ (date accessed 27 July 2013).

48 – Shamsul I, – Child marriage: 12-year-old girl given in wani to 85-year-old- The Express Tribune, 1 October,2011.  (date accessed 29 July 2013).

49 Bello N, Senator Weeps, apologises for backing child marriage law, The Guardian, 23 July, 2013. P.5.

50 Ibid.

51 Ameh J, No religion permits child marriage- Dabiri-Erewa  Punch, 27 July, 2013. http://www.punchng.com/politics/no-religion-permits-child-marriage-dabiri-erewa/  (date accessed 27 July 2013).

52 Gordon B, How to tackle the child marriage crisis 9 March, 2012 http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/03/09/how-to-tackle-the-child-marriage-crisis/  (date accessed 27 July 2013).

53 Nigeria Child Brides-Broken Lives Times online, 28 November, 2008http://www.wunrn.com/news/2008/11_08/11_24_08/112408_nigeria.htm(date accessed 27 July,2013).

54 Ibid.

55 Ibid.

56 Ibid.

57 Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse UNICEF ,http://www.UNICEF.org/protection/57929_58008.html (date accessed 27 July, 2013).

58 Ajani J, President may dump Sambo for Yerima, Vanguard, 14 July, 2013. http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/2015-jonathan-seals-deal-with-muslim-leaders/ (date accessed 01 August, 2013).

59 Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD). N.d. “ Vesico Vaginal Festulae (VVF).”

60  Bamgbose O, “Customary Law practices and Viloence against Women: The Position under the Nigeria Legal System.” Paper presented at 8th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women hosted by Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Makerere.

61 Nigeria 1988 “National Policy on Population for Development, Unity, Progress and Self-Reliance 1” in Center for Reproductive Rights 2003.

62 Nigeria , “Offences Against the Person and Relating to Marriage and Parental Rights and Duties and Against the Reputation of Individuals” Criminal Code Act 1990a, Chapter 77, no. 361.

63 Women’s Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), “ Sharia and Women’s Human Rights in Nigeria: Strategies for Action.2003, 70.

64 Amnesty International, “Nigeria. Unheard Voices: Violence Against Women in the Family” 31 May, 2005.

65 Danish Immigration Service. Report on Human Rights Issues in Nigeria: Joint British-Danish Fact-Finding Mission to Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria. 2005, 27.