Aminu Danmaliki, the Nigerian man accused of marrying an 11-year-old girl, has debunked the news report.
A Twitter handle, @TheSabiRadio, broke the news on Wednesday, 15 March that a Northern man, 61, had taken an 11-year-old as his bride.
“Video: Alhaji marries 11-year-old girl in Kano, says they love each other, and she’s his choice,” the handle tweeted.
For days, news of the alleged child marriage trended on Twitter.
Despite rebuttals from some Nigerians who personally knew the couple, others believed the groom should be prosecuted for child marriage.
However, Mr Danmaliki, a politician from Bauchi State, has debunked the report.
Taking to his Facebook page, Mr Danmaliki said the news reports saying that his bride, whose name is given as Sakina Waziri, is 11 are false.
Captioning a photo of himself and his latest bride, he said she was neither underage nor forced to marry him.
He wrote: “My recent marriage with Sakina has generated a lot of tension and unfounded allegations that I married an underage girl, some suggesting she is 11 years old and was forced to marry me.
“That is untrue. The Wedding Video went viral. We decided to keep mute but were advised to state the facts; here it is: My beloved wife is 21 years old. She made her own choice of me as her husband, and I loved her too.”
He further called on “blackmailers and doubting Thomas” to see the reality in the picture and leave them alone to enjoy their honeymoon.
Child bride and the law
In the past, high-profile Nigerians have been accused of indulging in child marriages.
In 2015 the then Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was alleged to be getting married to a 17-year-old as his fourth wife.
The palace later debunked the news, stating that she was 18 then and would not settle down to married life until she completed her higher education.
In 2010, Al Jazeera reported that Nigerian senator Ahmed Yerima married a girl of 13 in Abuja.
According to Human Rights Watch, in many Sharia-legislated states in Nigeria, child marriage is justified on religious and traditional grounds, with the age of adulthood based on puberty.
READ ALSO: Nigeria to have 29 million child brides by 2050 Official
Unequal gender roles also reinforce child marriage have little access to decision-making power, bodily autonomy, or rights.
However, under Nigeria’s Child Rights Act of 2003, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 years.
Section 23 of the Nigerian constitution criminalises aspects of child marriage. It provides that a person who marries a child or to whom a child is betrothed or who promotes the union of a child or who betroths a child commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a term of five years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
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