by Caleb Iniolu
If we as Nigerians want to start making laws based on religion, then our constitution can as well be set aside. We can then turn the Quran/Bible into our constitution.
Foreword: Senator Yerima has stated he will not respect any law that contravenes his religious beliefs. I suppose rational minds can only but wonder how then he’s serving as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria if he can decide which law to obey and which one to ignore.
Senator Ahmed Yerima threw so many tantrums on the Senate floor last week, so much the Senate President, David Mark, for fear of a possible upheaval, called for a 2nd vote (albeit unusual an initial vote had cleared the bill to be deleted). The 2nd round of vote which came about as a result of Senator Yerima’s arguments on the grounds of religion – Islam – had 35 other senators queuing up behind him. With 60 against, the needed 2/3 majority could not be secured as was earlier achieved.
Which bill are we even talking about? It’s none other than the now infamous “Child Marriage” Bill. The bill, though originally borders on citizenship, has a callous provision under which ANY girl can be married off at any tender age before 18.
When a law is made solely on the premise of religious rights as claimed by Senator Yerima and his 35 supporting senators, then there is perhaps no reason Not To pass a law made on the premise of human rights as well. Cue in; gay rights.
Let’s pause here and revisit the religious angle. Nigeria is a secular state. This means our lawmaking is guided by healthy consideration of all variables at play; religious, cultural, social, economic but most importantly; common sense, which is by the way not so common. This probably explains the condition of Nigeria today; lack of common sense, coupled with excess hypocrisy.
As a secular state, Nigeria has to strike a balance between different variables before making a law. Consequently, our lawmaking should be based on conscience to enact laws that APPLY to the generality or majority of Nigerians as at the time the law is being made. NB: that it worked in the 60s or worse still, for our ancestors should not be a yard stick in today’s setting; rather the unique situations surrounding today’s existence.
If we as Nigerians want to start making laws based on religion, then our constitution can as well be set aside. We can then turn the Quran/Bible into our constitution. But then, we can be rest assured we will suffer worse fate at the hand of majority of our so-called religious leaders who will translate purely on self-serving basis.
Back to religious and human rights. If this law is passed and the female child can marry and get intimate as it were, then respecting human rights to association and freedom of expression as per gay rights will also have to be granted. After all, it’s no longer about common sense and general societal acceptance in Nigerian law making. Added to this, the government is crying out more by every passing day that it’s under intense pressure from the international community to pass such an alien law as gay rights.
This is the interesting part, because the female child will no longer be the victim but the male child will as well be at risk.
The result; just as the 6 year old girl can marry and get intimate, same can, and will apply to your 6 year old boy; this on the premise that gay rights are granted and the laws reviewed to address gender-age equality. What is good for the geese is also good for the gander. Isn’t t?
FYI; I’m as straight as it gets so do not confuse this for supporting gay rights. Just to point out that if gay rights are not acceptable because it is inconsistent with the psyche of the generality of Nigerians, a 6 year old BABY should not have her life ruined by adults who have failed to appreciate the beauty of fully formed ladies; nay, women.
The 6 year old girl still needs to play with her mates; in the sand, on the swings, get quality education, experience the diversities of this world by interacting with people and not to see the four walls of a husband’s house as the beginning and end of her existence.
The most insulting thing by Senator Yerima is this; while a 6 year old girl can be married, the husband is duty bound not to get intimate with her until she comes of age. What exactly does it mean to COME OF AGE? And who decides when she’s come of age? When she turns 9?
Senator Yerima also says the BABY bride has a right to refuse intercourse until that time she comes of age, he finishes with a joke; rape is not acceptable under Islamic law unlike the English law. Now, the joke here isn’t to say Islam recognises rape, but to state English law condones rape.
I wonder how a 6 year old bride is expected to say ‘No’ to her 40, 50 something year old ‘husband’. I wonder how a 6 year old bride is to report she’s been raped by her grand-pa husband, bearing fully in mind that under Islamic law, the testimony of a woman is only worth half of a man.
For now, I rest my case and hope Sodom and Gomorrah are not considered to have been ‘learners’ when Nigeria’s story is told decades from now
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.