By Ochereome Nnanna
AHMAD Sani Yerima is easily the strangest and possibly most dangerous creature ever to emerge on the Nigerian political scene. He was the Governor of Zamfara State for eight long years and now occupies a prestigious seat in the Nigerian Senate. If his gamble had worked, he would have been the president of Nigeria, since he vied for that office in 2007 even though he could not make it through the presidential primaries of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
In his 11 years in the political limelight, Yerima has cost this nation unquantifiable amount of damage in lives, property and image in the international community as a result of his delusional approach to the practice of Islam. If other Nigerian Muslims were like Yerima, I doubt that there would be a nation called Nigeria, because there would have been unleashed an orgy of mutually-assured destruction (MAD) among the practitioners of that faith and other groups.
In November 1999, this heavily-bearded religious bigot addressed a crowd of Zamfara indigenes and promised he was going to present a bill to the state legislature for the adoption of Shariah penal code. Zamfara, with its population of over 90 per cent Muslims, on January 26, 2000, became the first state in Nigeria to break a historic taboo and introduce the penal code version of Shariah Muslim law, which had existed only as a civil, personal law in Nigeria.
Proceedings at constitutional conferences and legislative sessions at the federal level had always come to a halt whenever some Muslim hawks, either for genuine reason or pure political blackmail, pushed for the establishment of Sharia law in its fullest ramifications.
Amhad Sani Yerima threw caution to the winds and forced Shariah penal code into existence. This triggered a stampeded across the far, predominantly Muslim North, whose rabble demanded from their governors the establishment of the same code in their states.
As feared, Sharia riots broke out in parts of the North. In Kaduna State, it claimed more than 2,000 lives, displaced thousands more and led to the â€œBeirutisationâ€ of Kaduna city, where we now have separate Christian and Muslim exclaves. The effects of the Sharia killings were so wide-ranging that, for the first time in history, youths in the Eastern parts of the country engaged in reprisal killing of Northern Muslims in their midst, a trait that is alien to their culture but rampant in the North.
President Olusegun Obasanjo knew he could not deal with the Sharia issues and Ahmad Sani Yerima with force, so he decided that the Sharia-mania would fizzle out on its own. His prognosis has largely come true, because apart from half-hearted restriction of the sale of alcohol to military zones, it is as if nothing happened 10 years ago in most parts of the North. I was on a research visit to Yola during last yearâ€™s Ramadan and noticed that night and social life was down to near zero. Beer parlours groaned from poor patronage. I was told that it was because of the fasting.
The Sharia penal code also put Nigeria in an undignifying position on the world arena, when Ahmad Sani Yerima ordered Baba Jangabeâ€™s hand severed, â€œlong sleeveâ€ style, for allegedly stealing a cow. Two women were also condemned to death for adultery in Sokoto and Katsina states, but were saved as a result of worldwide outcry.
The same Ahmad Sani Yerima, when he got himself elected into the Senate, declared his asset publicly, claiming that he was worth over one billion naira in houses, cars and cash. Here was someone who worked in the Central Bank of Nigeria and made a controversial exit from there. He was never known to be a successful businessman before he became governor. He is one of the ex-governors on trial by the EFCC over alleged financial crimes while in government. And many people have called for the application of his own medicine of Sharia law if he is found guilty, by having his hands and legs (and possibly, head) removed from his body because of the magnitude of his alleged crime.
Ahmad Sani Yerimaâ€™s latest escapade is that he bought a 13-year old Egyptian girl-child for $100,000 (N15 million) in the guise of marrying her. He reportedly divorced one of his four wives to make way for his new, exotic pre-teen trophy.
He even sponsored the childâ€™s family to Abuja for the â€œweddingâ€ because Egypt, which is older than Nigeria in the practice of Islam, would not allow child wedding with a 50-year old man on their soil. I cannot understand how an elderly man would look at a 13 year-old little girl young enough to be his grandchild and develop sexual arousal! You have to be a pervert to be able to achieve such a sick feat.
Exposure of children this young to sexual activities and childbirth results in vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF), which is common in the North. When such unfortunate children develop the condition, they are abandoned and stigmatised. Since Yerima is reputed to change wives as he changes his babanriga, it is safe to assume that he would send the poor child back to her parents if VVF becomes her fate.
Ahmad Sani Yerima is a paedophile. A 13 year-old is a very young minor by Nigerian laws. Our laws say that having sex with anyone under 18 is rape, because she does not yet have the power of consent. But of course, Ahmad Sani Yerima, as usual, decided to hide under the canopy of religion, which is subject to free interpretation. Religion offers him a wider choice of playground to experiment his warped fantasies, not minding the pain and agony his escapades subject his victims to.
Ahmad Sani Yerima is no role model.