By Ben Agande
ABUJAâ€” THE Senate, Wednesday, began the formal probe of one of its members, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, over his alleged marriage to a 13-year old Egyptian minor with a charge on its committee on Ethics and Privilege as well as Public Petitions to investigate the matter.
This followed the presentation against the senator by the National Human Rights Commission challenging the marriage which it said violates the laws of the land.
Senator Eme Ekaette, PDP, Akwa Ibom, who submitted the petition on behalf of the National Human Rights Commission came under Order 41 of the Senate standing Rules.
Senator Ekaette said the petition was from the National Human Rights Commission adding that about 10 women groups addressed it to her as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youths.
As she made to expatiate on the petition, the Senate President, David Mark, directed her to lay the report on the table, after which he referred it to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions.
Senator Mark said the Ethics Committee was free to invite other committees if they needed assistance.
With the formal presentation of the petition to the Senate, the contentious issue of Senator Yerimaâ€™s marriage to a minor was no longer the personal affair of the senator.
It would be recalled that a coalition of women groups including the Medical Women Association of Nigeria, MWAN, Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, WRAPA, and the Global Association of Female Attorneys, GAFA, led by Dr. Mma Wokocha had, Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly to protest the child marriage.
While calling on the Senate to suspend the senator, the group also called on Senator Yerimaâ€™s constituents to begin his recall from the National Assembly.
Dr. Wokocha said: â€œThe people who are supposed to be guarding the nation are the ones breaking the rules. Hitherto, Nigeria had hidden under the guise of Islam or Christianity but the issue in question is the marriage of a minor.
â€œMaybe because of poverty, he brought this little girl to Nigeria to complete the marital rites. We are calling on Senator Yerima to resign because this is not the first time. We learnt that another girl that he had married while she was 15 years and recently divorced has just clocked 17 years.â€
NAPTIP invites Yerima for questioning
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Person, NAPTIP, yesterday, invited Senator Sani Yerima for interrogation.
In a statement in Abuja, the agency said the invitation was in compliance with section 5 and 58 (b) of NAPTIP Act 2003 and 2005 as amended.
The statement signed by Orakwue Arinze, head of Press and Public Relations said: â€œThe National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters has invited Senator Ahmed Yerima, the former Governor of Zamfara State for an interview over an alleged case which the agency is investigating presently.
â€œThe matter which is not unconnected with the alleged Senator Yerimaâ€™s marriage to under-aged Egyptian girl of 13 years, is of great concern to the agency and has attracted a consequential negative image for the country.â€