Yerima blackmailed senators with religious sentiment, says David Mark

#childnotbride protest in Abuja
#childnotbride protest in Abuja

The Senate did not succeed in removing the controversial constitutional clause.

Senate President, David Mark, has accused a senator, Ahmed Yerima, who is at the centre of the child marriage controversy, of blackmailing the Senate to reverse its initial move to delete a section of the constitution that appears to support child marriage.

The said section says a woman married shall be deemed to be of age for the purpose of renouncing citizenship. But many Nigerians fear the section sanctions girl marriage and have asked that it be removed.

Mr. Mark repeated an earlier position of the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, that the section would be revisited.

He did not, however, guarantee the contentious section, which ordinarily deals with citizenship, but appears to promote child marriage, will be deleted since it will require voting.

But he said the Senate was poised to remove the section from the law in the first place until members were blackmailed by Mr. Yerima by his claim that an alternative decision would be un-Islamic.

“Let me also talk to my own brothers and sisters who are Senators, who were probably blackmailed. That is the fact, because it is in the open that I cannot also hide it and nobody can hide it,” Mr. Mark said.

“They were simply blackmailed, and on that day, if they didn’t do what they did, nobody knows the outcome or how the consequences will be today, because the people outside can say this man, you are Muslim and didn’t vote for something that is of Islamic interest, because if we don’t hit the nail squarely on the head, we may never get it right.”

Mr. Yerima’s call compelled the Senate to repeat the vote which had already passed the required mark. The second vote was defeated, leaving the section intact.

Mr. Yerima, a former governor of Zamfara State, shot to controversy after introducing the Sharia law while he was in charge of Zamfara State. After he left office and became a senator, he took a fourth wife, a 13-year-old Egyptian girl, sparking anger and widespread criticism across the land.

Mr. Mark spoke on Wednesday while receiving a high-level team including the minister of women affairs, Zainab Maina, and the chairman of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, who protested the Senate’s failure to delete the section.

Other members of the team included wife of former Chief Justice of the federation, Maryam Uwais; former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa and former Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili; former women minister, Josephine Anenih; and other top gender activists.

The group asked the Senate to revisit the section and delete it.

“The Senate must remain impervious to emotional, religious reasoning, and focus on the aggregate social good which will protect and enrich the lives of half of the nation’s population,” remarks read by Mrs. Maina said.

“We enjoin the Senate leadership to use every avenue within its rules of procedure to cause a revisit of the vote on Section 29(4) (b). The overwhelming reaction of Nigerians against the outcome of the vote on 16 July, 2013 is a clear and unequivocal indication that women, and indeed diverse and significant constituencies of Nigerians, have concerns for the specific and general implications of the decision of the Senate to retain Section 29(4) (b).”

Mr. Mark said Senators were not “pedophiles” and would reconsider the contentious section.

“We wanted to remove it but it failed, we were a total of 101 Senators, 85 voted and I think about six or so abstained. There was hardly any dissenting votes but once it got mixed up with so many other issues, it didn’t get the required 73 votes anymore.

“So, first of all, I think the castigation outside is done out of misunderstanding but because a religious connotation was brought into it, which is a very sensitive issue and you must agree with me that in this country, we try as must as possible not to bring issues that involves faith to the floor of the Senate and indeed the chamber, we keep religion completely out of it because what is good for a Christian is also good for a Muslim.

“The good of the country is for everybody and not for a particular religious sect. I think the bottom line is, when people get more educated, then we can do a re-think and probably, if the Senate agrees, go back and see whether we can get the required number once more, because that is the solution.”

    • Efe1

      Mark is unserious! I think he is looking to marry a baby too.

    • Kaykay

      This is pitiable. Nigeria is a country that is not yet ready to develop. Period.

      • babansa

        Is copying Oyigbo a development? Shame on you. Pls be proud of yourself.

    • Usman

      From the tone of his speech, David Mark is clearly biased and has already taken sides on the issue. As the head of senate, he is supposed to be (or at least appear to be) neutral. It appears that if given the chance Mark may even outlaw polygamy. Certainly the issue of so called 18 years has significant implications and I think even the honorable senators themselves need to be more educated on It. David Mark should tone down and be less sentimental. He should understand that for Muslims, all aspects of life – marriage inclusive – are guided by Scripture. In fact I would dare challenge him to dig and find out how old was Mother Mary (Gods peace be upon her) when she gave birth to Jesus. Like they honorably did in the case of same sex marriage, let the Lawmakers study the issue more closely including what obtains in many societies across the globe and I believe they will have a change of mind. Let there be tolerance and mutual respect please. Mean time, I would suggest to the lawmakers that in order to avoid getting blamed either way and also be more democratic, why not take the issue back to the grassroots and inputs from all stakeholders? In other words let each of them go back and seek the opinion of his constituency. that way everybody is carried along and a more ‘all inclusive’ acceptable position can be attained.

      • AYEKOOTO

        WHY NOT ALLOW THE FIRST VOTE IN THE FIRST PLACE? WHY DID THEY REVITE THE 73 VOTE?

      • Bala R

        ANY WONDER MAJORITY OF PROSTITUTES IN OUR CITIES ARE IDOMA?

    • Sadiq Garba

      So you’re blackmailed.

    • chidozie Asonye

      I don’t understand, in Nigeria men who call themselves gentlemen are not indeed gentlemen.

    • Dan Baba

      Our law maker have many serious issues left untouched; issues like official corruption, insecurity, armed robbery, kidnapping, unemployment, closed universities and polytechnics, poor healthcare delivery, declined agricultural production, communal clashes, prostitution, child trafficking, rape etc etc but they are thriving on issues that concern only a section of the society, even at that, a very private thing, just to set sections of the populace against each other and cause another round of senseless killings. Nine year olds are getting pregnant on the streets in UK, Germany and USA, it’s like a way of life; because our leaders flourish on our collective loss they want to instigate another skirmish on an issue that infringes on freedom to practise ones religion.

    • Jamilu M. Magaji

      ….LOL….Ignominious elements clamouring over this issue should note that the bill remain sacrosanct and cannot be reversed by mere agigation.

      • Fred Duke

        Really? If pedophiles like Yerima caused the earlier decision to be reversed, then what on earth makes it sacrosanct? It will only remain sacrosanct because the Senate has more peverts and paedophiles than law makers. What on earth would people like Yerima be doing in the ‘already unhallowed’ chambers of the Senate if Nigeria was to be a civilised country? We are still a jungle country, governed by jungle leaders.

    • Nigerian!!

      One day Senators will delibrate on how we are to pray in Mosques and Churches because they only deliberate on issues not concerning National issues.
      Corruption, Insecurity, Armed robbery, Kidnapping, Unemployment, Striking Universities and Polytechnics Lecturers, Poor healthcare delivery, Poor Agricultural production, Communal Clashes, Prostitution, Çhild trafficking, Rape aand others too numerous to mention.
      I thought the constitution gave every religious faith freedom to practice or what are we talking about?
      They are just doing this to create another tension in the country.
      They just their wasting tax payers money by enriching themselves with billions of Naira?
      Verry Angry and Annoying.

    • ruma

      ”Nigeria has many uncountable problems and none of them is early marriage. As a matter of fact early marriage the solution to about half of our problems. For those who wonder if I can give my daughter(s) out in marriage at the age of 9 or 13, I tell you most honestly, I can give her out at the age of 6 if I want to and its not your business. This is because I am a Muslim and I follow the example of the best of mankind, Muhammad ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ . In Islam, marriage is not only about sex, it is about family and helping one another in achieving their goals, which is the attainment of Paradise. In Islam, a girl can be given out in marriage as early as 6 years old, but consummation of the marriage can only be done when the girl becomes physically mature and she gives her consent to it because unlike English law, it is not permissible for a man to rape his wife in Shari’ah Law. So what can anybody tell me? I live in a city where young girls at the age of 12 have already became serial fornicators and cannot count the number of man they’ve had sex with. I live in a City where primary school children dis virgin themselves behind toilets on Valentine day. I live in a city where young girls flood the street at night looking for men that would give them N500 to have sex with them. I live in a city where parents send their daughters out overseas to prostitute and send dollars down. I live in a City where Government officials pick undergraduates from University car parks with Coastal Buses to wild sex parties. I live in a city where abortion is so common that even a Chemist shore owner can perform abortion with just N2,500. These are your daughters, and this should worry you and not Yerima’s private matters. So ask me again why I support early marriage and I will slap the Jinn out of your head”.
      – Senator Ahmad Sani Yarim

      • Concerned_9ja

        I wonder why the Northern Muslim states still have the highest no of VVF patients if a 6 year old girl can be given out in marriage and consumation occur “when she is mature and gives consent”

        See how you people live in fools paradise!! Your girls aren’t educated and all u care is to give a 6yr old to a much much older man!! Keep on living in bondage and wonder why the Northern Muslim states are still very backward!

        Doffing my cap to u in pity!!

        • Princely

          tanx… I laboured so hard in futility to comprehend how
          prostitution and sexual abuse is solved by girl child marriage if not
          for a mischievious postulations by the paedophiles dat has further
          exposed their inordinate craving to satisfy their sexual urge with what
          has become known as “fresh blood”, as basis to predicate their apparent
          schemings to legalize their much desired sexual practices… so if a
          girl child was caught being sexually abused, marry her out to an old
          grandfather…any wisdom in dat??? What happens to the male abuser???
          send him on street begging or what… with the tune of some unreasonable muslim fanatics here like @ruma, it
          appears the women don’t have choice as to who they get marry to, and of course, how would they when they are forced at such a young age of ignorance… if a
          bethrothed girl that has lived wit a man from the age of 6 decides to
          decline consent for “official” consummation of the marriage at so-called
          “maturity”, how will she be seen in the society? how many so-called “matured” but now disenchanted women have successfully rescued theirselves from
          this arrangement? they are seen as divorcee and even derisively and discrmininatorily
          addressed as “second hand” or “cheap article” to acquire…It means the
          religious teachings of early girl child marriage does not permit love and affection on the part of the
          women to form the basis for their choice on the man they wish to marry. Some muslims like @ruma even brandish their ignorance by saying
          “i can give my daughter out for marriage at 6″ without considering the
          probability of that girl child of realizing her future and fulfilling
          her destiny by getting properly educated and informed to make good
          choices.This apparently account for the
          high population of miserably poor divorcee women in the north wallowing in pernury… Why can’t these old
          sexual perverts wit high libido for kid girls see beauty/virtues in matured
          singles & young widows… take a look at it again… its only d
          poors girl children that largely fall victims… if the girl child of a
          rich islamic oligarch is habitually indulging in sexual escapades, will her parents withdraw her frm school and sell her out for marriage???…ur
          answer is as gud as mine. This issue of sexual abuse on d girl child is
          virtually prevalent in this muslims concentrated areas. Why can’t the
          promulgators of this inhumane law evolve a strategy to eradicate the
          causative factior of girl child sexual abuse through adequate laws that
          compel early girl child education and awareness? Lazy thinking is the
          hardnut for this easy-thought and malicious excuse which the largely
          northern proponents of this law and the rich would never like to cure
          because it will wittle down the worship of them and the raca deidei accolades
          they enjoy frm their largely uneducated uninformed populace. No one can
          take my daughter of three to the obscure corner and sexually abuse her, because she’s already aware of her worth. Remember also that women,
          except those of the rich, are treated dangerously like slaves in the
          north with the purported brainwashing that it is in line with God’s
          injunction. Finally, asked urself sincerely if this practice of girl
          child marriage is pronounced in the well educated, civilized and
          technologically driven Arabian countries like United Arab Emirates and
          Qatar.

      • Ismail Ibn Abubakar

        What bothers me is why islamic countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey have no problem outlawing child marriage but Nigerian muslim communities, led by hypocrites like Yerima, think that is the most important development agenda in support of women. How about protesting the management of the MDG management for a start, or even simply isolate girl education as an issue?

    • Akeem

      MARK SEEMS TO BE SPEAKING WITH BOTH SIDES OF HIS MOUTH, THE IDEA OF SPEAKING ON THE CHAMBER IS TO CONVINCE PEOPLE (FELLOW SENATORS) TO SEE REASONS WHY AN ACTION MUST BE TAKEN. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT SEN. YERIMA DID. WHY CALL IT BLACKMAIL?. TO ME I SEE SEN. YERIMA DEFENDING THE RIGHT OF A MARRIED WOMAN IN RESPECTIVE OF HER AGE. THE WAY IT HAS BEEN IN THE CONSTITUTION SINCE 1979, WHY ATTACHING AGE TO IT.