By: CHIOMA UMEHA
International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria, has condemned the resolution recently passed by the Senate to retain the constitutional provisions that considers a married underage girl as an adult. A statement issued yesterday and jointly signed by the National President, Hauwa Evelyn Shekarau, and National Secretary, Chigoziri Ojiaka, said the decision of the lawmakers contradicts the views of Nigerians as expressed during the recent constituencies consultations, which was part of the ongoing constitutional review process.
“FIDA, Nigeria, expresses her utter dissatisfaction with the resolution passed by the Senate to retain the provisions of section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which deems a married underage girl as an adult, contrary to the general views of Nigerians as expressed during the recent constituencies consultations conducted as part of the ongoing Constitutional Review process.” The statement added that the retention of the section in the constitution also negates the country’s commitment to different international and regional treaties it is signatory to.
The treaties include the Convention on the Rights of the Child, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which all prohibit child marriages. “For section 29 (4) (b) to continue to remain in our constitution is a clear negation of Nigeria’s commitment to different international and regional treaties such as The Convention on the Rights of the Child, The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and The AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa which all prohibit child marriages.”
FIDA reiterated that based on the views of Nigerians during the constituencies consultations, the section should be deleted from the constitution. It urged the Senate to respect the views of the people. “It therefore behooves on the Senate to grant Nigerians their desired wish, rather than allow itself to be deterred by the views of an individual borne out of purely selfish considerations,” FIDA said. It added, “It is generally accepted that ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God.’ We therefore call on the Senate to hearken to the voice of the people by reviewing and reconsidering the resolution, and by so doing etch their names in gold for history.”
This story was published in Newswatch Times on July 24, 2013.