Monday, 22 July 2013


This is just ridiculous!
The social media was agog with so much frenzy when news of what transpired in the Senate in the past week hit the media streets. I have received not less than 50 broadcasts on bbm from people claiming to be massively involved in the fight against the passage of a bill to legalize under-age marriage. I was shocked when I read most of these broadcasts and was greatly depressed because I realized that majority of us Nigerians are an ignorant lot!

If people spent half the time they do reading newspapers, listening to the news on the radio and watching news on TV or actually visiting google more often for current news headlines rather than reading gossip columns like Linda Ikeji's blog and other gossip media, they would be more informed. For Linda Ikeji's teeming fans, this is not a swipe at Linda Ikeji but a swipe at those of you who take her stories as the gospel truth. Y'all need to learn the difference between gossip and fact!

Contrary to what many people think as regards the issue, there wasn't an actual bill to legalize under-age marriage. What happened was during the on-going constitutional amendment carried on by the National Assembly, with specific regard to Section 29 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Senate Committee sought to amend the subsection stated copiously below.

Section 29 (1) provides thus;

"Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation"

Section 29 (4) further states thus;

"For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section
(a) "Full age" means the age of eighteen years and above;
(b) Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age." (Emphasis mine).

A probable but unwise interpretation of this subsection is that a girl who gets married at the age of 13 or less is of full age and can decide to change her citizenship regardless of her mental capacity. This was the bone of contention for the Senate Committee. The Senate Committee was of the opinion that the provision should be expunged because of this perceived ambiguity. This is where the problem started.

Senator Ahmed Yerima whom we all know as a "staunch" defender of Sharia Law swung into action saying that the section was against the tenets of Islam. I am no expert in Islamic affairs, but this in my opinion however, was no defense of Islam but the defense of his lecherous whims especially in the light of his condemnable marriage to a 13 year old Egyptian girl in 2009. His view is that once a girl is married, she has full mental capacity to renounce her citizenship and understand the implication thereof.

This, my friends, is a shitload of bollocks! I'll tell you why.

In all the hue and cry that followed, we all forgot something - and this is often the case when religion and emotions get involved in arguments - we skip the salient points. The subsection said "woman" and not "girl". The wording of the sub-section is clear and unambiguous. Except "Hon"Yerima and the other Senators who missed this are trying to tell me that the word "woman" is a synonym for "girl", what's all the fuss about?

For the "unlearned", any question of statutory interpretation begins with looking at the plain language of the statute to discover its original intent. To discover a statute's original intent, courts first look to the words of the statute and apply their usual and ordinary meanings. Only when that fails, can we deem such a statute to be ambiguous before recourse can be had to the intent of the legislature when making the law or other methods of statutory interpretation.

Amazingly, Ahmed Yerima gathered a few followers with his warped sense of logic and when it came up for a second vote, though the majority of senators voted that the subsection be expunged, they couldn't get the required two-thirds majority to expunge as provided for by Section 9(2) of the constitution which states thus;

Section 9(2)  “An Act of the National Assembly for the alteration of this Constitution… shall not be passed in either House of the National Assembly unless the proposal is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of that House and approved by resolution of the Houses of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the states.”

Therefore, in this regard, the majority of the Senate only failed to expunge the subsection because of the requirement of the above mentioned Section 9(2) which basically gave Yerima and his cohorts the power to hold the rest of the Senate to ransom. However, this attempt to expunge the subsection, though noble is misguided and highly unnecessary.

That being said, The Child Rights Act was passed into law in 2003 and Section 277 defines a child as anyone below 18 years of age. Also, Sections 21 and 22 of the Act effectively criminalizes child marriage and betrothal in Nigeria. What needs to be done is to push for The Child Rights Act to be domesticated in every one of the 36 states in Nigeria.

As at today, 12 states are yet to domesticate The Child Act and apart from Enugu State, the rest of them are states from the North. This in my opinion, is a deliberate ploy to undermine the efficacy of the Act.

Furthermore, any court that makes the mistake of towing the line of the thoughts of our obviously "unlearned" senators who sought to expunge the Section 29(4)(b) of the Constitution poses a serious threat to the applicability and enforceability to the Act as all enacted laws that are inconsistent with the constitution are void to the extent of their inconsistency because the Constitution is the grund norm of the nation and is supreme to any other law enacted. 

 Section 1(1) provides, “This Constitution and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

In addition to this, Section 1(3) provides, “If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void."

For avid social media users, please be selective in the information that you consume and take as fact.

This is my two kobo on the issue.

Malcolm O. Ifi.


  1. Ifi... All these Legal illumination on a blog for literary entertainment. I agree that bloggers should avoid gossip o! But let me shock you with the Senators own comments on the issue at hand.

    SEN. AHMED SANI YARIMAN BAKURA REPLIES THE CRITICS OF EARLY MARRIAGE Nigeria has many uncountable problems and none of dem is early marriage. As a matter of fact early marriage is the solution to about half of our problems. For those who wonder if I can give my daughter(s) out in marriage at the age of 9 or 13, I tell you most honestly, I can give her out at the age of 6 if I want 2 n its nt ur business. Dis is because I am a Muslim and  follw d example of the best of mankind, Muhammad (PBUH). In Islam, marriage is not only about sex, it is about family/ helping one another in achieving their goals, which is the attainment of Paradise.In Islam, a girl can be given out in marriage as early as 6 years old, but consummatn of the marriage can only be don wen the girl becomes physically mature and she gives her consent to it becos unlike English law, it is not permissible 4a man 2rape his wife in Shari'ah Law.So what can anybody tell me?~ I live in a city where young girls at the age of 12 hv alredy became serial fornicators and cannot count the number of man they've had sex with.~ I live in a City where primary school children disvirgin themselves behind toilets on Valentine day.~ I live in a city where young girls flood the street at night lookin 4men dat wud giv them N500 to have sex with them.~ I live in a city where parents send their dotas out overseas to prostitute and send dollars down.~ I live in a City where Government officials pick undergraduates from University car parks with Coastal Buses 2wild sex parties.~I live in a city where abortion is so common dat even a Chemist shore owner cn perform abortion with just N2,500.These r your daughters, and this should worry u n not Yerima's private matters. So ask me again why I support early marriage and I will slap the Jinn out of your head.- Sen Ahmad Sani Yarima.

    Remember 2 forward this to all your contacts. Remember that Christians $ Christians in politics can't sit back, fold their arms as muslims overrun 9ja

    This issue is deeper and more political than this particular blog post would have us believe.

  2. And here is my response to Senator Yerima which I've been passing round hoping that one day it will get to him:

    With All Due respect Sir. First of all I respect you as a politician. I aspire to be one sir. I respect you as a muslim. I believe in plurality of religions and multiple ways to God. I respect you as a man who airs your views vehemently and persuasively. I hope this message gets to you.

    But sir, its disheartening that we may be missing the point. Its not really my business what people do in their private lives and in the comfort of their bedrooms. What is my business is why the supplementary budget hasn't been passed in July! What is my business is that this Nigerian Senate has derailed. This Senate has done what they weren't elected to do. All year long this Senate has battled the Executive. Nigerians are weary of this Senate and I fear that this Senate is bad for our democracy.

    Sir... The lack of political ideology amongst our Senators is killing this Senate. Are you a communist? A socialist? A capitalist? What views of politics do you espouse really. That's the problem. That's why you miss the point. I know girls get disvirgined these days at 8. Holy Jesus. If I become Senator I'll sponsor a bill that makes any adult who disvirgins a minor lose his organ! I know girls procure abortions from chemist. As a Senator I'll sponsor a bill thay will put all those chemist men behind bars for life! They will get multiple life sentences! I know University Students are used in wild sex parties. These girls are between 15-23. If I become a Senator I will pass a bill that will empower whistle blowing like Snowden and Assange. By the time those politicians using University girls rather than leading see their faces splashed on the covers of tabloids, in Nigeria and abroad, they will stop this madness.

    I'm a neo socialist. Africa needs more. I don't know what you are but this isn't about religion.

    I know you can give out your 6 year old DAUGHTER. I know you can give out your 6 month old DAUGHTER sef (to what by the way I thought was a bethrotal NEVER marriage). The point is FIRST GIVE OUT YOUR 13 year old son.

    Why do women and children always have to be at the receiving end of such indignities? Women are disappointed with this Senate. Nigerians all are. And except you guys intend to massively rig the next elections you may have just kissed re-election bye bye

    1. Lol. I love how you drove your point which is these Senators ARE NOT DOING THEIR JOBS!!! From my own view point, Yerima's response to the widespread criticism is seriously lacking in intellect for me to even consider a response.

    2. Also, in response to the second last paragraph of your first post with Yerima's response and the third last paragraph of your response, there is a very big contradiction. Is this whole issue about religion or not?

      It is not!

      This is what I'm talking about. Yerima has succeeded in misdirecting Nigerians into believing the issue is about religion when it was all actually a misinterpretation by our lawmakers.

  3. No one said a law was created for underage marriage. All we want is the ambiguous clause to be removed. The law can stand very well without it. Since people like Yerima are using it to imply that little girls become of age once they marry and they can comfortably argue, then it should be taken out and ammended. We the unlearned do not want our girls seen as objects of sex. They need education, not marriage. Marriage comes with adulthood. Is it wrong and stupid to stand and fight for that? For those that sit and do nothing but criticise, they should try and get up and correct us by fighting for a more 'informed' cause.
    Come on, Nigerians have been oppressed for so long. For a senator to come out and expressly say he is allowed to marry a six year old is the depth at which this country has plunged. Such men should be sent to jail and marked forever as paedophiles but its only in Nigeria that even the educated will find a way to look at such despicable issues as logical.
    We're not only fighting to change the law' we're also fighting to let these girls who don't know any better, that there is another way to live.
    For once, let's get up and do something. We're not in prison. As long as we're free, we will fight. If the law won't hear us; hearts will. And even if, Malcolm, you are not joining our cause, please don't boo us down.
    Its depressing that people are doing this

    1. Err...i'm beginning to wonder if you read the post at all. How am i booing the campaign down by saying people should understand what they are campaigning for? I don't get it.

    2. Well my brother and my friend. The post is a great legal illumination. I'm not familiar with the trappings of the law but I have all the details of the subject under discussion. Everyone I know speaking up on this issue has most of the details. A few may need to be guided on the facts though which is where your post derives its relevance-to guide a microscopic uninformed minority.

      After all said and done, the caption of the post did a dis-service. We are not misguided or misunderstood. I didn't understand the title of this piece and that's what the last commentator may have been reacting to. A different title would have served this brilliant post better.

      By the way you need to join this child not bride campaign ASAP. We need men like you to insist that the Child Rights Act must be enforced in all 36 states. Imagine, I was already researching on a bill I hope to lobby through the National Assembly on the RIGHTS OF THE UNBORN CHILD, only to most surprisingly find that even the Rights of living and breathing children are being trampled upon by such...

      I must protect myself from my own anger. So long man... So long

    3. The people that you and I know who are informed on the issue are a miniscule proportion when compared to those who aren't. How do you know that the uninformed are a microscopic minority?

      Are you assuming that everyone in Nigeria has access to the internet or the information traffic that flows through social media? If you are, you are SO WRONG!

      Even most of the people you know who have access to the internet don't know. I know this, because most of the people i know don't know. Except you are telling me that you roll with the most elite, cream de la cream members of the society.

      The title of the post is apt and meant to attract the attention of those who are uninformed.

      People should endeavor to take the necessary steps to investigate thoroughly what they plan to campaign about; that is my point. A salesman cannot sell a product he knows nothing about.

  4. Often times, the problem is that we are in hurry to read and understand what is written or said. Anonymous, pls read again and digest it well then come back and make ur comment again. Really, Ifi's insight into the matter is commendable. Yerima is the one who is misinterpreting that section of the law, infact, both those who support him and those who oppose him are all ignorant of the what that section of the law says. If it says ' any woman', then there shouldn't have been need to repeel the law in the first place. The term woman has already excluded a female child , cos, to be a woman means being an adult female, not just any female. So, the whole hoax started from the national assembly. In fact, the media's wrong impression should be blamed on the national assembly not on bloggers and their readers. There was no need for the fire on the mountain attitude.

  5. I'm a tad excited that on an issue, Nigerians are deciding to not be indifferent even though there's a gross misrepresentation of the real issues. Its a small step, but a step nonetheless....

    1. On that score, i totally agree. Let's see how it goes...

  6. My brother, I tire o... U just said it all. I really didn't see the need for the whole 'activism'. It only leaves even an averagely intelligent person aghast at the pool of sheer stupidity that is amassed in a country like ours... Busy bodies and their lot!!

  7. I made a promise that I will stop blaming those who are ignorant of what happened at senate last Tuesday, those who choose to be mischievous by misrepresenting facts or those who believe anything they read on social media after I read the Vanguard Newspapers Editorial of yesterday. I was told that editorials are written by seasoned intellectuals. It was a masterpiece in the breach.
    Otenghabun Ebose

    1. Dear Lord!!! Even Newspapers have become vehicles for shabby and misleading news reporting. That is how low journalism has sunk today. Terrible!


      I really don't know why my brother and my friend Ifi is taking this sort of stance on this issue. I'm sure there are cogent reasons. None of which I can now see.

      Please watch the video in the link above. This matter is more serious than you guys are painting it o!

      If you won't join the campaign at least don't make doctors, lawyers, engineers, actresses and all who are taking this matter up look like we are misguided. Do I really sound misguided to you? Check this blog for an alternative view if you really seek the truth and let my know just how misguided you think we are.

      Ifi... This great legal mind of yours will help this campaign.

      Ah Ah

  8. I'm not against the campaign. Nothing in my article says that I'm against the campaign, except you have pointedly refused to understand the point of the article to which I state for the umpteenth time is strictly that people should be informed before taking up the gauntlet on a particular issue.

    The herd-mentality which has become the case especially in this social media age is one that must be cautioned because of its immense power. Nigeria is at curious bend in its history. Uninformed campaigns such what this #ChildNotBride campaign may turn out into because of misinformation is not healthy for the stability of this country, especially when you throw religion into the mix - quoting you now, "Remember to forward this to all your contacts. Remember that christians and christian in politics cant sit back, fold their arms as muslims overrun 9ja." - this was totally unnecessary.

  9. Thanks for your observation. But I play politics that shocks. Let me shock you even further.

    Vice President -North.
    **Senate President -North.
    **Speaker House of Reps - North.
    **PDP National Chairman - North.
    **Head of Service - North.
    **INEC Chairman - North.
    **Inspector General of Police - North.
    **CBN Governor - North.
    **Chief Justice of federation - North.
    **President Court of Appeal - North.
    **EFCC Chairman - North.
    **President Federal high court - North.
    **National Security Adviser - North.
    **Chief of Defense Staff - North.
    **Controller, Customs Service - North.
    **Controller Prison Services - North.
    **Richest man in Africa - North.
    **85% of Petroleum Marketers in Nigeria - Northerners.
    **80% of Oil Block Owners in Nigeria - Northerners.
    **99% of beggars in Nigeria - Northerners
    **Boko Haram - North.
    Тнє Police Accademy ---------- North
    Тнє Military School ---------- North
    Тнє Defence Accademy ------- North
    Тнє Military Ammunition Supplies Depo---- North
    Maritime HQ ------------------ North
    Military Tactical Commands ---------- North
    Aerospace Unit --------------- North
    Military Training Bases ------ North
    CBN,NNPC A̷̷̴̐͠πD even тнє Federal Territory -- North
    Yet, the Poorest states in Nigeria and Educationally backward areas
    in Nigeria are in the North.
    Now ask yourself, what is the problem of the Northerners? Keep
    forwarding till it gets to all these leaders maybe they will have a re-think. Feel free to post on facebook too.

    "Remember to forward this to all your contacts. Remember that christians and christian in politics cant sit back, fold their arms as muslims overrun 9ja." - is this totally unnecessary. By the way this one is being circulated by my friend Major Babatunde, a yoruba muslim.

    Thank God finally the Senate has listened to our cries that they ought to wake up, do what we elected them for, pass the bill for the budget ammendment and stop heating up the nation with things like Section 29. Hope you will vote for me when I run for office in 10 years