Before you read this, I will like you to calm down, take off all your defensive guns pointed right now due to previous information received from whatever source, Put on your thinking caps.
I’d like to state that it was totally disheartening that our Senator married a girl young enough to be his grand daughter and even much more painful to withstand is the fact that her parents let her marry this senator!!!
When this marriage took place, we could have done the female child right rally but we didn’t.
The Root of the Issue: It turned out that what happened in the Senate has no relationship with a female child’s right or marriageable age. It is even more to Senator Yerima’s detriment than his advantage.
A Senate Committee made recommendations for the amendment of Sections 26 and 29 of the Constitution that dealt with Citizenship and Renunciation of Citizenship.
Section 26. (1) Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, a person to whom the provisions of this section apply may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria, if the President is satisfied that –
(a) he is a person of good character;
(b) he has shown a clear intention of his desire to be domiciled in Nigeria; and
(c) he has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution.
(2) the provisions of this section shall apply to-
(a) any woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria; or
(b) every person of full age and capacity born outside Nigeria any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.
Proposed Amendment: For gender balance, the word “woman” at section 26 (2) (a) was recommended for removal to cover “men” as well, the amendment passed without an incident.
Then Section 29 (Renunciation of Citizenship) of the Constitution says:
(1) Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.
(2) The President shall cause the declaration made under subsection (1) of this section to be registered and upon such registration, the person who made the declaration shall cease to be a citizen of Nigeria.
(3) The President may withhold the registration of any declaration made under subsection (1) of this section if-
(a) the declaration is made during any war in which Nigeria is physically involved; or
(b) in his opinion, it is otherwise contrary to public policy.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section.
(a) “full age” means the age of eighteen years and above;
(b) any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.
The clause that is really causing this unnecessary storm is Section 29 (4) (b). That clause has always been part of our laws, but the Senate proposed to remove it as infringing on child’s right by making every married woman an adult.
At the taking of the vote for the first time, they got two-third to remove it from the Constitution. But Senator Yerima stood up and whipped up religious sentiment by indulging his Muslim brothers who ignorantly believed him into action.
When the peace was threatened, David Mark, the Senate President asked that the vote be taken again, at this point they were no longer able to garner two-third votes to remove the provision from the Constitution, so it remains.
Now to the legal issue:
Section 29 (4) CLEARLY states: “for the purposes of subsection 1”
Section 29 subsection (1) CLEARLY states: “Any citizen of Nigeria of full age WHO WISHES TO RENOUNCE HIS NIGERIAN CITIZENSHIP shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation”.
This is called “narrow definition” Subsection (1) narrowly defined under what circumstances the definitions stated at clauses (a) and (b) would be applicable.
The clauses (a) and (b) of section 29 (4) are only relevant to “renunciation of citizenship” alone.
What made this clearer and should leave no one in doubt is the fact that clause 29 (4) (a) re-emphasized that “full age” shall be 18, but if you are already married, for the purposes of renunciation of citizenship you shall be automatically qualified to do so even if you are not 18 yet. Because you are deemed of “full age” for renunciation reason based on the definition given by subsection 29 (1) In any case S. 29 (4) (b) is referring to someone already married not about-to-marry.
The constitution threatens Yerima’s status than support it. That section is more useful for a foreign child that has been forced into a marriage than it can benefit anybody when removed. As it is, his young Egyptian wife can renounce citizenship.
To confirm the constitution quotes visit http://www.nigeria-law.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm
My advice to Nigerians is to dig up and confirm facts before stirring up unnecessary storms in tea cups. We were obviously misled by information that dwelt on the misdeeds of the senator rather than the senate’s proceedings.
All I’m saying is that this is a wrong/inappropriate baseline for the protest. The protest should have been done when the senator got married or IF the senate had passed a bill that rated a child as an adult before 18 on a general scale or on a different occasion! This law is not meant for Born Nigerians but for foreigners that have become citizens by virtue of Marriage. Read and Understand and you’ll realize that Yerima’s Egyptian wife has the right to renounce her citizenship as a Nigerian by marriage. There is no bill that has been passed recently concerning the marriage able age of a child or the female child’s right or whatever!
It’s like asking, what fruit did Adam and Eve eat in the garden according to biblical account? Someone would answer and say, “YES, They ate an apple” and the argument turns from being “what fruit did they eat” to the “type of fruit they ate”. Some would say apple, orange, pear, the fruit was sex etc. For a better part of my life, i grew up thinking it was an apple. That’s the result of adulterated information. Always try to find out the source. It is okay to fight for children to avoid them being married off at a young age, not just girls but boys too. be sure you’re doing it for the right reason with the right facts.
I do not support the marriage of any child before 18 but the baseline of this protest at this time (that is, amendment of section 29 of the constitution) is highly uncalled for. If you have questions or contrary views email me at email@example.com and I’ll answer your questions and we’ll reason with each other.