Voting rights to underaged married girls: Prominent Nigerians flay legislators proposal

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Nkechi Nwankwo

PROMINENT Nigerians and some civil society groups, have expressed utter dismay  at the unfortunate proposal by certain members of the House Committee on Electoral Acts amendments to push for voting rights for underaged married girls.

According to them, “to give the vote to underaged girls purely as a result of marriage under the globally accepted age of 18, other than being itself undesirable is highly discriminatory and for that reason unconstitutional. Our laws are meant to be rational and based on reason and logic. The proposers of this provision have entirely failed to show any reason for this proposal.”

They made this known in a statement made available to Realnews on Wednesday, December 23 and signed by 13 persons.

The signatories commended the stand by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission,  for pointing out to the Committee that their requested amendment would violate the Nigerian Constitution.

“We note that the requested amendment would legitimize the marriage of persons under the age of 18, in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which Nigeria ratified in 1991,” they said.

Noting that some states in Nigeria are yet to domesticate and implement the Child Rights Act, the statement urged the House Committee and the National and State Assemblies to focus on amendments and bills to end the marriage of persons under the age of 18 across Nigeria.

“Mindful of the abysmal indicators of the abuse and neglect of the girl-child in Nigeria, we expect and demand that our law makers direct their energies and efforts towards the promotion of the well-being, education and advancement of the girl child for the good of our country,” they said.

The signatories are Nkechi Eke Nwankwo, director, Women’s Leadership Group, Nigeria,      Prof. Ngozi Osarenren, University of Lagos;  Amina Oyagbola, WISCAR founder and chairperson; Hafsat Abiola-Costello, president, Women in Africa Initiative; Ladi Daniella Aku, gender advocate and Asmau Benzies Leo, executive director, Center for Nonviolence and Gender Advocacy in Nigeria.

Others are Mary Isong, Gender Based Violence expert; Felicia Onibon, national coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group; Mirabel Edozie, general secretary, South South Professional Women Association; Prof. John O. Aiyedogbon, Bingham University, Karu; Ifeoma Okafor, Gender Advocate; Cordelia Onu, managing editor, PowerHouse Manuscript managers and   Rasheed Rahman, Fernside and Associates.

 

– Dec. 23, 2020 @ 7:21 GMT |

 

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