By DAUD OLATUNJI
ABEOKUTA — Hundreds of women, yesterday, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, rained curses on persons who marry underaged girls, urging President Goodluck Jonathan to join them in the fight against early marriage.
The women, under the aegis of Concerned Women Forum, drawn from various women groups, market women, religious groups, and civil society groups across the state, staged a protest at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta.
The Senate has been criticised over a bill popularly referred to as early marriage bill which was condemned by many stakeholders. However, The Senate has denied existence of such a bill.
The women carried placards with various inscriptions such as “Give us education, not marriage”; “Child marriage is barbaric, no to it”; “Woe to husbands of underage, they are evil” and “Ogun children, reject child marriage.”
Leading the protesters, the Iyalode of Egbaland, Mrs. Alaba Lawson, chided the lawmakers for the plan to legalise child marriage under the guise of early marriage bill.
She lamented that child marriage, if allowed to be smuggled into the constitution, would deprive the girl child of adequate education, noting that the act had destroyed the lives of young girls in some parts of the country.
Lawson, however, urged the lawmakers to focus their attention on the alleviation of poverty, which she said was ravaging the country, rather than engaging themselves in the issue of child marriage.
The Egba chief called on Nigerians to vote wisely during the next elections and “shun their N500 and their exercise books.”
“What are the senators looking for? Is that what the country needs now? Child marriage bill has nothing to offer the country.”