The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has expressed concern over the Senate’s passage of a resolution to amend the provision of Section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 Constitution which states that, “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”
He also vowed to mobilise Nigerians against the Senate resolution until it was reversed.
“By the grace of God, I will personally mobilise Nigerians and lead the street protest against this oppressive and dehumanising resolution.
“Why would the Senate after voting recoil simply because a point of order premised on religious basis was raised.”
“We Christians also have Canon Law, which frowns on marriage of girls who are not of age. Christianity abhors such marriages. The protest will be soon.
He also said he was in shock over how old men could get sexually interested in minors.
“It makes me wonder the source of the emotions and thoughts that nurture them,” he said.
The number one Christian community leader also quoted copiously from the Qur’an in calling on the Senate to rescind their decision to retain their controversial clause.
“Finally, I urge the Yerimas in the Senate to tow the path of the Holy Qur’an in (5:32) which states that one who kills a person unjustly in effect has killed everyone, and one who saves another has saved everyone.
“They should save these girls and Nigerians the agony of having their children married off at ages below 18 by unfavourable legislations”.
He maintained that if the law is amended, a girl of any age can be constitutionally allowed to marry.
Oritsejafor, who spoke in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Media and Public Affairs, Kenny Ashaka, maintained that child bride should not be encouraged or allowed in Nigeria
“This is why I consider the resolution of the Senate to amend Section 29 (4) (b) selfish, delusive and a contravention of all known international conventions, protocols and ethics on the rights of the child to which Nigeria is a signatory. Child bride should not be encouraged or allowed in Nigeria.
“With over 12,000 women quoted by the National Demographic Health Survey as living with the Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) every year in Nigeria, fine tuning laws that would enable desiring Nigerians to marry primary school pupils is not what our legislators should be involved in.
“Rather, the Senate should strengthen the nation’s constitution by protecting all citizens’ rights, especially those of children from abuse. This would amount to legalisation of sexual abuse of underage girls,” he stated.
The CAN President said as a Senator, whose case of marrying a 13-year-old Egyptian girl was still fresh in the memory of Nigerians, Yerima should “only be seen and not heard in matters of this nature”.
He added, “If now Yerima is commenting on a case in which he has interest, it can only mean the action of a man frenziedly trying to get himself out of the hook through some undeserved legislations. I appeal to those individuals who have been educated along this line in the Senate not to use their rights as lawmakers to harm children below the age of 18, but to choose the interest of these children above their own.
“These girls should be allowed to develop, individually because this resolution, if implemented, would hound girls below 18 years into marriages they know nothing about. This is only one dimension of this tragic resolution.
“I feel that when individuals attain a certain way of thinking and understanding and reach certain status in life, they should be able to comprehend that it is necessary to adhere to conventions in line with best practices the world over and not harm other members of society, no matter their ages within the same society.”