The Jigawa State Hisbah Board on Thursday said it dissolved no fewer than 330 forced marriage in 2019 after the victims fled their homes in protest.
The head of the Hisbah, also known as the state’s ‘moral police’, Ibrahim Garki, told PREMIUM TIMES they ‘nullified’ the marriages after the victims reported their cases to the Hisbah offices across the state.
He said after the nullification, the board also reconciled the victims with their parents.
The official said the victims are mostly underaged girls and women including divorcees ”whom their parents insisted on marrying off to a particular suitor that the parents are pleased with”.
Also, he said the Hisbah succeeded in preventing some of the marriages from taking place.
Mr Garki added that the organisation advised the parents to enrol the girls in schools and followed it up.
Meanwhile, the Hisbah also said ”it picked up 436 street children known as ‘almajiri’ and reunited them with their parents”.
”We preach to the parents about the rights of their children. If they fail to give them a proper upbringing with good education, they would account for their negligence on the day of resurrection,” the official said.
According to a United Nations survey, 43 per cent of Nigerian girls are married before they are 18. The problem of early marriage is particularly endemic in the North.
With more than 80 per cent of girls being married off before their 18th birthday, Jigawa State has one of the highest prevalence of child marriages in the country.
Jigawa State is also yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act Law which provides adequate protection for children and girls.
But officials in the state have cited some sections of the law contradicting their religion and cultural belief.
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Bulama Bukarti, said the Child Right Act makes some exquisite provisions aimed at protecting all children such as access to basic education.
”Section 14 and 15 of the child right act law made it mandatory for parents to give their children care and made it illegal for the child to be separated from their parents,” the lawyer said.
Mr Bukarti added that ”there are other existing laws that protect the children but there is no law that adequately protects the children other than the Child Right Act Law”.
”Had it been the law was enacted, it would ensure more protection for the children and increase girl-children enrollment in schools,” he said.
However, he said, ”some sections of the law contradicts customary practices in Jigawa State.”
This, he said, resulted in the state rejecting the whole content of the law adding ”that the decision is like throwing a baby with the bathwater.”
He advised legislators and the governor ”to codify (merge) parts of the law that are in agreement with Islam and cultural practice in the state and domesticate the law.”