18 July 2013

The "29(4)(b)" Saga

I have been reading the back and forth on the vote in the Senate regarding Chapter III, Section 29, subsection 4, part (b) of the Nigerian Constitution. A quick search for "Nigerian Constitution" on Google yielded a couple of links: 

Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria (html)*
Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria (pdf)

Unless both links host incorrect versions of the 1999 constitution, part (b) ALREADY EXISTS:

    1. 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.
    2. The President shall cause the declaration made under subsection (1) of this section to be registered and upon such registration, the person who made the declaration shall cease to be a citizen of Nigeria.
    3. The President may withhold the registration of any declaration made under subsection (1) of this section if - 
      1. the declaration is made during any war in which Nigeria is physically involved; or
      2. in his opinion, it is otherwise contrary to public policy.
    4. For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section. 
      1. "full age" means the age of eighteen years and above; 
      2. any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age. 

My confusion is this: what exactly was the vote yesterday, to remove 29(4)(b) or to retain it? Also 29(4)(b) relates to Citizenship. Does the definition of "full age" in section 29 have bearing over the definition of "full age" in other sections of the entire document?  If the answer to this question is yes then Houston we have a problem.  From Senator Yerima's argument it seems to me that the vote was to remove 29(4)(b). This means to me that prior to yesterdays proceedings "any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age." holds true as far as the Nigerian constitution is concerned. This implies that up until, and after the vote which did not meet the 2/3 majority requirement, PEDOPHILIA IS LEGAL IN NIGERIA.

I have received several requests to sign a petition on change.org petitioning the UN to "Stop The Nigerian Senate From Making Under-Age Marriage The Law!" This makes no sense to me though as it would appear UNDER-AGE MARRIAGE IS ALREADY THE LAW IN NIGERIA! How else would Senator Yerima openly marry a 13 year old girl in 2009 and not be sitting in jail somewhere?

Senator Babafemi Ojudu of Ekiti Central Senatorial District has provided on his website details of what the vote was and how members of the Senate voted this has helped clarify some of my confusion as well as raised a rather important question: What other shocking things are enshrined in the current Nigerian Constitution?. I would like to applaud Senator Ojudu's sense of accountability to his constituency (this is how I chose to define this act), its like a breath of fresh air. Here is a link to Senator Ojudu's "expose":


We should encourage the Senators to continue on the right track, that is strike 29(4)(b) from the constitution like they were trying to do before Senator Yerima stirred up religious sentiment again provided that this section has relevance outside of 29(4)(b). Its the least they can do. From recent numbers published by The Economist we know they are well paid to do their jobs. VVF is a terrible thing and these poor girls are being violated in the name of religion and cast aside as soon as their bladders give in, pariahs due to no fault of theirs.

How do we encourage our Senators? By petitioning them directly and letting them know that we the people they represent will not stand for this continued victimization of the girl child in Nigeria no matter the guise under which such victimization is occurring.

*version available on the web as at 10/09/2011

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