Premium Times reports - -
The Senate has defended its decision to retain a controversial section of the constitution that seems to support child marriage, asking Nigerians to be calm and understand that the section has nothing to do with marriage, but instead citizenship.
The Senate said Nigerians had nothing to fear as it will never support child marriage, a subject at the centre of the controversy over Section 29, subsection 4(b) of the constitution.
That section details guidelines for a Nigerian to renounce his or her citizenship. Part of the law says the person must be at least 18 years. But if the person is a woman and married, the section continues, she shall be deemed to be “of age”.
An attempt by the Senate last week to delete the second definition having to do with a married woman, as part of its ongoing constitutional amendment, failed after a member, Ahmed Yerima, claimed it was un-Islamic.
The failure has sparked intense public anger,one of the most sweeping, against a decision by the National Assembly in years.
Nigerians have called for a reversal of the decision that will see the section deleted, saying retaining the provision, which has been in place since 1979, gives backing to child marriage and other abuses.
“This has nothing to do with child marriage; we will never support child marriage,” said Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who heads the review committee, said.
Mr. Ekweremadu deplored how even a “respected national daily” communicated wrongly to Nigerians that the section in question stipulates that the Senate was proposing to reduce the minimum year of consent from 18 years to nothing.
“This, as you are aware, is totally untrue,” he said on Tuesday.
The Senate said its effort at removing that section from the constitution in the first place was not informed by marital consideration, but that it was intended to maintain gender equality by making sure anything that grants separate guidelines for men and women, was deleted.
“In doing its work, the Senate committee on the review of the 1999 constitution went through the constitution to fish out and recommend for amendment other provisions such as Section 26(2)(a) and Section 42(1) deemed to be discriminatory against Nigerian citizens,” said Mr. Ekweremadu.
He said the section can still be revisited sinceconstitution review is continuous