Child bride investigation underway in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Senate has ordered an
investigation into reports that one of its members has married a 13-year-old
Egyptian girl.

Ahmad Sani Yerima, 49, is alleged
to have married her at the national mosque in Abuja several weeks ago.

Senators called for the
investigation after receiving a petition by protesting women’s groups, who believe
Mr Sani has broken the law.

The senator has not spoken publicly
about the reports of his marriage.

Nigeria’s human rights commission
has already begun an investigation.

Mr Sani was the governor of Zamfara
state, where he oversaw the introduction of Sharia law – for the first time in
a northern state – in 1999.

Reports of the marriage – appearing
in newspapers – are creating a storm among human rights groups

The female senators, lawyers and
doctors who are protesting say that they fear for the child’s health.

“What we are concerned with is
that our minors, the girl child, should be allowed to mature, before going into
marriage,” Mma Wokocha, President of the Women’s Medical Association and
one of those behind the petition said.

“This very evil act should not
be seen to be perpetrated by one of our distinguished legislators … that is
what we are saying.”

The senator is reported to have
paid a dowry of $100,000 to the child’s parents – and to have brought the girl
into Nigeria from Egypt.

The women’s groups want Mr Sani to
be taken to court, to face a fine and a jail sentence.

The whereabouts of the teenager are
unknown – and it is not clear whether she has any parent or guardian with her.

Newspaper reports have also accused
the senator of having previously married a 15-year-old girl in 2006.

The investigation is to be carried
out by a Senate committee.