By: CHIOMA UMEHA
The Child Protection Network(CPN) a coalition of n o n – governmental Organisations (NGOs) Civil Society Organisations (CBOs) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) and government agencies in 31 States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) working in the area of Child Protection in the country have decried the removal of Section 29(4) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the retention of Section 29(4) (b), last Wednesday, by lawmakers in the country.
A statement signed by the various representatives of CPN from the various geopolitical zones and states in the country condemned the Senate’s move. The statement read: “CPN decries in very strong terms the removal of Section 29(4) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the retention of Section 29(4) (b) of the same on Wednesday July 17 by the members of the National Assembly.” According to them, the action violates the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. “This action is a complete violation of Article 21(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which prohibits Child marriage as well as Article 6(b) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which provides that the maximum age of marriage for women is 18 years,” the statement said.
The statement further said that Senate’s action contravenes the Child Right Act. It said: “This act of the Senate also contravenes Section 21, 22 and 23 of the Child Right Act which state that no person under the age of 18 is capable of contracting a valid marriage and accordingly a marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect what so ever.
It is also an aberration to all the International Human Rights legislations for children which Nigeria is a signatory to, had ratified and domesticated.” CPN reading riot act against the Nigerian girl – child called on well-meaning persons in the country to ensure a reversal of the proposal. “This action is generally unacceptable and not in the best interest of the Nigerian girl-child. We urged all right thinking Nigerians to strongly condemn this action and urged members of the house to revert this despicable and shameful action,” the statement said.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on August 9, 2013.