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Published On: Fri, Jul 19th, 2013

Senate Urges Women Protesting against Yerima’s Marriage to 13yrs Old Egyptian Girl to Seek Redress in Court

13 years old Egyptian girl put under family by Senator Sanni Yerima. Women groups are protesting calling for the return of the girl back to her family

.LAGOS JULY 19TH (URHOBOTODAY) The Senate has asked groups angered by the marriage of its minority leader, Ahmed Yerima, to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl to go to court rather than the Senate for a redress.
The Senate spokesman, Ayogu Eze, said this on Tuesday following protests at the Senate by female senators and a coalition of Nigerian women’s groups.

The Zamfara State politician was accused of marrying a minor – the 13-year-old daughter of his Egyptian driver. However, the senate spokesman said the accused senator had not broken any rules of the Senate with his marriage to the child.

Senator Sanni Yerima

Shortly before the Senate began plenary, members went into a closed-door session in anticipation of a petition that Ufot Ekaette (PDP, Cross River State), leader of the women senators, planned to present against Ahmed Yerima (PDP, Zamfara State). During the session, the Senate leadership stopped Ms. Ekeate’s petition.
While briefing the media outside the chambers, Mrs. Ekaette said she had the permission of the Senate President to present the petition that day.
Mrs. Ekaette’s coalition had planned a seven-day no-comment protest at the Senate, where they would stand in silent protest before the National Assembly to call on lawmakers to suspend Mr. Yerima for his action. They called on the people of Zamfara West senatorial zone, which Mr. Yerima represents, to recall the senator. Mrs. Ekaette added that the coalition will back civil society to prosecute the offending senator.
A petition – written by Roland Ewubare, the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission – and presented by the protesting women asked the Senate to investigate Mr. Yerima for his alleged marriage to a minor in violation of the provisions of section 21 of the Child Rights Act and other international and human rights instruments, to which Nigeria is a party.
Medically unsafe, legally wrong
The women argued that Mr. Yerima’s action is medically unsafe for the child-bride and legally wrong. They demanded that the senator returns the child to her Egyptian parents or face more protests and possible court action.
Chinelo Iriele, the president of Global Association of Female Attorneys, said the group is compiling evidence to charge the senator to court, where he faces “serious consequences” if found guilty.
“Nigerian women are sad because under the Child Right Act section 21 prohibit[s] child marriage. Nobody marries a child, whether boy or girl, under the age of 18,” said Ms. Iriele. “Today, one of our senators, Yerima, is sitting at the highest law-making body of this country committing the same offence that attracts the penalty of N500, 000 or five years imprisonment – or both of them.”
Mma Wokocha, a gynaecologist and the national president of Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, argued that the marriage will expose the child to vagino-vesicular fistula (VVF).
VVF is a condition where, because the child’s pelvis is too narrow to give birth, pressure from the baby’s head blocks the circulation in the area between the bladder and the vagina, killing the tissue and creating a permanent hole in which urine constantly passes through the vagina, she explained.
The Senate’s leadership seemed unconcerned, saying they did not have any official notice of Mr. Yerima’s marriage to a minor, despite the presence of some principal officers of the Senate at the National Mosque where the marriage was allegedly conducted last month.
“The Senate cannot fish around for these things because we are not an investigating body to fish around for somebody who has broken the law,” said Mr. Eze. “If there are people who feel strongly that he has broken the law, the course of action is to take him to court to seek redress. It is not the responsibility of the Senate to go to court on behalf of those who feel he has broken the law,” he added.
Serial paedophile
According to the protesters’ petition, the 13-year-old is not the first underage girl Mr. Yerima has taken as a wife.
“The senator is in the habit of marrying minors and has gained notoriety in enticing girls to marry him, having contracted one in 2006 with a 15-year-old (Hauwa’u) whom Mr. Yerima allegedly caused to drop out of school at JSS 3, as his fourth wife,” the petition read.
Hauwa’u, who has one child with Mr. Yerima, will turn 17 today. However, the senator recently severed the marriage to make room for the 13-year-old Egyptian girl.
According to the women groups, Mr. Yerima’s request to marry the minor was turned down in Egypt because marriage to children is prohibited there. They accused the senator of luring the girl’s family with money, paying them a bride price of N15 million and sponsoring about 30 members of the child-bride’s family to attend the wedding ceremony.
Mr. Yerima, the former Zamfara State governor who was famous for his introduction of Sha’ria law to the state, was absent at the Senate while the protest lasted. He was also not reachable on phone for his comments.
This story was first published by NEXT Newspapers (234next.com) in April 2010.
Source: Premium Times

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  1. Sylvanus says:

    Senator yerima is disappointed fellow to this country.

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