May 18, 2010

Child Marriage: Yerima quizzed, granted bail

….I’ve not broken any law, he says

Ben Agande
The National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) Tuesday interrogated the former governor of Zamfara state, Senator Ahmed Yerima over his alleged marriage to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.

Although senator Yerima was granted bail after spending about three hours with the agency, he remained defiant saying his action could not be challenged for as long as he did not violate the Quran.

It would be recalled that following the national outcry against the action of the senator,the NAPTIP invited him for interrogation.

Senator Yerima who was accompanied by some aides to the headquarters of the Agency reportedly told the investigators that in Islam, the age of a bride is not relevant when the issue of marriage is involved.

He claimed that the constitution of the country guarantees him the right to practice his religion and in doing so he has to abide by all its tenets.

Sen. Sani Yerima

It was gathered that when he was asked to reveal the real age of the girl in question, he was said to have insisted that he will not disclose the age of the girl and that he did not see the passport.

Senator Yerima it was furtherd gathered claimed that his decision to marry in Nigeria was not because he wanted to beat the laws in Egypt but for the convenience of his family members and friends in Nigeria.

In a brief chat with journalists, a defiant Senator Yerima said he was not concerned about the cpontroveray that has continued to trail his marriage to a minor because he has not broken any known law in Islam.

He said: “The Child Right Act they are talking about was brought to me in Zamfara as a governor, my people rejected it so also other states in the North it was rejected by the state assembly because it is against their religion”, he stated.

Executive Secretary of the Agency, Simon Chuzi Egede said his agency was on top of the investigation and that it has established that Egyptian law forbids marriage to an under age.

He said the investigations into the matter was neither politically motivated nor influenced by religion. “it is purely within our mandate having received petitions from so many interest groups.”

“We are in touch with Egyptian authorities, we know it is illegal in Egypt and we do not need to get to Egypt before we get the age of the girl, within the federal capital there is a law against marriage to a minor and the law is no respecter of any person”, he said adding that the agency will soon conclude its investigations on the matter and the whole Nigerians would know what really the issues are,” he said.