By Abdulwahab Abdulah
ABUJAâ€”THE Senate will, next Wednesday, begin an investigation into the alleged marriage of Senator Sani Yerima, ANPP, Zamfara, to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Senator Omar Hambagda, who disclosed this in an interview, yesterday, said the committee had received petitions from three serving female senators over the issue.
He said: â€œWe are sitting on this matter on Wednesday next week. I cannot comment on the subject yet because I do not have all the information. We will have to talk to the petitioners. They have to tell us the basis of their complaints. We want to know in what capacity they are complaining.
â€œWe also need to speak to Yerima. Yerima is a Muslim. This country has recognized Sharia Legal System since independence and even before independence. We have Sharia courts up to the Court of Appeal. We want to know whether this action is covered by Islamic personal law, which is recognized by the constitution of this country and whether his actions comply with Islamic Law.â€
Hambagda said the committee would submit its report to the Senate after the investigation, adding that whoever had an interest on the issue was also free to testify before the committee.
On the delay in starting the investigation, the chairman said the committee had been busy with other reports which would soon be submitted to the Senate, adding: â€œThere are eight reports that we are working on. We are finalizing them for presentation to the Senate.
â€œThe job of this committee is not a straight-forward one. At times, you invite people, they donâ€™t come and you cannot process the report until all the relevant people have testified.â€™â€™
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Women and Youth, Senator Eme Ekaette, had on April 28, 2010 presented a petition to the Senate, saying the committee had been inundated with petitions on the alleged marriage.
Body drags FG, Egypt before ACHPR
Meantime, the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid, WELA, has dragged both the Federal Government and Egypt to the African Commission on Human and Peoplesâ€™ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia over allegations of child abuse involving Senator Ahmed Sanni Yerima.
In the petition dated 14 May, 2010 addressed to Dr. Mary Maboreke, Secretary to the African Commission, WELA, through its executive director, Mrs. Funmi Falana said:Â â€œWELA is concerned that Senator Yerima, an elderly Nigerian man, married a child as young as 13-year old in contravention of national laws and human rights conventions that protect children.
â€œAs of now both the governments of Nigeria and Egypt have failed and/or refused to take the required steps to remedy the flagrant violation of the right of the child who has been forced into illegal marriage by the Nigerian senator by ensuring that the suspected perpetrator is brought to justice, and adequate compensation paid to the victim.
â€œThe helplessness that has been demonstrated by the Nigerian government and its Egyptian counterpart in not meting out the appropriate punishment to Senator Yerima and remedy the case of child abuse is tantamount to violation of all known laws, conventions and standards, including, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the African Charter on Human and Peoplesâ€™ Rights.â€