Nigerian senator, 50, marries girl, 14 

A senator and former governor of Zamfara State of Nigeria, Ahmed Sani Yerima 
was questioned by officials of the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic 
in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) Tuesday over his marriage to 
14-year old Egyptian girl.

Yerima, 50, who married the girl in Abuja but refused to respond to the issues.

He was however granted bail asked to report back to the agency on the 15 

Outside the court,Yerima told journalists that he was not bound by the laws of 
Nigeria but by Islamic laws, which he claimed he has not breached.

Yerima, prior to contracting his marriage to the Egyptian child, had divorced a 
teenage wife whom he married when she was fifteen and is now seventeen.

The seventeen year old ex-wife's education was stopped during the time of the 
marriage and like the Egyptian girl, she is the daughter of a former driver to 
the senator.

Arinze Orakwe, head of communication and media of NAPTIP, confirmed the 
senator's presence in the agency's headquarters, and revealed that Yerima was 
released after more than two hours of questioning.

"He told the panel that he had not contravened any law and he tendered his 
marriage certificate to the girl in a Shari'a Court," he said.

The National Human Rights Commission, in a statement, commended NAPTIP for its 

"This singular act has demonstrated that impunity has no place under the 
current democratic dispensation and sends a loud and clear warning that nobody 
is above or beneath the law in this country," stated the commission.

Meanwhile, Alliances for Africa, a non-governmental group said it was greatly 
concerned about the continuing incidents of early marriages in Africa.

"Cases of early marriage or child marriage are evident among some of the masses 
but are becoming a practice condoned by government officials."

"Although, in the best interest of the child, it is not advisable to disclose 
the name of the child, investigations reveal that the child is the daughter of  
Yerima's driver in Cairo, Egypt"

Alliance for Africa said Yerima's marriage "is a clear violation of Section 21 
of the Child's Rights Act of Nigeria 2003, which forbids the marriage of 
persons below 18 years".

It also violates Article 21(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare 
of the Child which prohibits child marriage and betrothal, as well as Article 
6(b), African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in 
Africa that provides that the minimum age of marriage for women is 18 years. 
Egyptian Law also limits the minimum age of marriage to 18 years.

Published May 19 2010

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