19th August, 2010
The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has appealed to the Federal Ministry of Justice to reconsider its decision of dropping legal action against Senator Ahmed Yerima.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Yerima’s marriage to a 13-year old Egyptian girl recently generated controversies.
But Yerima hinged his defence on religious ground, saying the marriage was done according to Islamic rites.
The Coordinator of the Association, Mr. Emanuel Onwubiko, told newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja that HURIWA was displeased with the situation.
He said Yerima’s marriage had breached the Child Rights Act.
Onwubiko said the association disagreed with the position of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Justice Muhammed Adoke, on the issue.
“It is an offence that should not be left to rest,” he said.
He expressed disagreement with the ministry’s position that the Child Rights Act was not meant for foreigners, but for the Nigerian child.
â€œThe International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, Article 16 says everyone shall have the right to recognition as a person before the law.
“It is a law that has been accepted and domesticated in Nigeria as part of our local laws.
â€œWhat this implies is that the Egyptian child immediately she steps into Nigeria enjoys the provisions and protection of the law,â€ he said.
He said since the law was passed in the FCT, it became applicable in the territory even though it was not yet adopted in other parts of the country.
â€œThe marriage was conducted in Abuja not in Egypt, therefore, it is applicable here.
â€œSection 21 of the Child Rights Act states that no person under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting a valid marriage and accordingly, a marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Onwubiko said the Constitution was clear on religious rights since it said no religion should infringe on the law.
“A religion should not infringe on the laws of the land; once it does, the law of the land takes superiority,â€ he stressed.
NAN reports that the association had earlier written a petition to the British High Commission in Nigeria, demanding travel ban on Yerima.