Yerima Defender, of Islam and Baby Marriages
I have vowed to reduce my comments about Nigerian politics on this weblog. This is because news about Nigeria could make someone go insane. Nigeria is so rich and yet so poor. We are very intelligent and yet so stupid. And those who call themselves leaders in this country are so high-up and yet so low.
The above picture (I decided to give him all the space he needs) that of Senator Yerima(BBC coverage), who has since gained fame after marrying a 13-year old Egyptian girl. Today’s Sun News Online coverage calls it Yerima’s Baby Marriage. Its unfortunate that the Nigerian senate have decided to play politics with the issue. Rather than calling a spade a spade, they call a spade an enlarged spoon.
Reading through the Sun Newspapers today, and stumbling on another child marriage news piece:
Lagos-based Islamic cleric, who was arrested by the police for allegedly defiling a 14-year-old girl in a mosque, has denied the allegation. The 52-year-old suspect, simply identified as Alfa Okah, is undergoing interrogation at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
He, however, told detectives that he never defiled the girl but confessed inserting his fingers in her private part.
He was alleged to have made love to the girl (names withheld), in a mosque in Surulere area of the metropolis severally. The victim’s guardian, Marian, is said to be the wife of the Imam in-charge of the mosque.
It was the Imam’s wife who reported to the police that the victim had been missing for some weeks. During interrogation, it was found out that Okah might have been having amourous affairs with the young girl. He was arrested by the police and he admitted knowing her whereabouts.
One of the detectives interrogating him told Daily Sun that he later took them to Akute area of Ogun State, where he kept the girl. “When we got to the house, we only met a man, who revealed that Okah slept with a young girl and kept her in his custody. He also told how he couldn’t find the girl when he came back from his place of work.”
Okah later confessed to Daily Sun that he was actually dating the girl, adding that he had the intention of marrying her. “She is my lover. She was 12 years old when I started dating her, but I have not made love to her. I only romanced and fingered her each time I had sexual urge. You know she is still young. I am only nurturing her to grow before I could start sleeping with her.” On the girl’s real age, he said: “The police are just saying that she is 14. No, she is 15. She is my girlfriend and I know her age.”
He explained that he took her to Ogun State, because she complained of being maltreated by her guardian and was ready to go back to her parents, who also live in Akute. He said: “As a lover, who has her interest in mind, I decided to support her in the little way I could. I paid her transport fare and kept her in my friend’s house, while we were still tracing her parents’ whereabouts. I wonder why she left my friend’s house without either his consent or mine.”
When asked how many times he slept with the girl for the past three years, he claimed he had been her friend, Okah became furious and warned, “please, don’t ask me such a question again. I am an Alfa, I can’t tell you lies. I was only romancing and fingering her and nothing more. I romanced her on the road each night her guardian sent her on an errand.”
On the allegation that he organised a birthday party for the girl, he said: “Yes, she is my lover. I only marked it to show my affection and appreciation to her. She is my lover.” His friend, Antonio, who was weeping profusely, as he spoke to Daily Sun said, he did not envisage any trouble, when Okah brought the little girl to his house.
He said: “He only told me to accommodate the girl for the night. He slept with her on my bed while I slept on the floor. I left them there to go to work the following day. Okah had told me he would leave very early for Lagos, for prayers. He begged that I should take care of the girl till he came back, but when I came back from my office, I did not see her.”
He, however, appealed to the police to allow him to go home as any further delay could cost him his job.
I don’t know the Nigerian constitution by heart, but I have a question:
are religious views subject to the laws of the Nigeria as a nation? or vice-versa?
Since Yerima’s child abuse issue started, I’ve got talking with acquaintances, friends and colleagues. I’ve even listened to people talking about the issue in public places, like Newspaper stands, public transport, etc.
In these information batters, I have heard a lot, and its like I am the only one that just knew that child marriage is alive and kicking in Nigeria – since Yerima’s smoke burst into flames. I’m like “are you guys serious?, where have I been all these years?”, as they give me examples right and left. I was even advised to go to general hospitals and see children giving birth to children. I was informed that its worst in the northern part of Nigeria, where 13-14-year old mothers happen on a daily basis in hospitals right and left. One of my informants concluded: if Yerima was not in politics, it won’t be an issue, nobody will worry about it. I was like,….damn!, Nigerian don spoil.
Unfortunately, I have found some Nigerian Islamics approving that Senator Yerima has done nothing wrong. On these occassions, I feel a little bit scared, coz these are muslims(Nigerian Islamics) who I suppose, at least by appearance to be above board – as far as religion, reasoning, and level-headedness are concerned. These are educated Muslims, whom I suppose should know better.
Sometime 2-weeks ago, I was in a bus on the way to Oshodi. Someone bought a newspaper, started reading, two people started talking about Yerima and before long, almost everyone joined in. I kept quiet and listened. My jaws almost collapsed when a guy(I’ve nicknamed him Yerima defender), a muslim, a University graduate(he told us he’s a University) for that matter defended with all his vigor that Senator Yerima did nothing wrong. He was sitted at the far back. While Yerima defender raised his voice trying to explain whatever his view was, other men and women in the bus argued against his point of view and rained curses on him. There were about two other muslim men in the bus. One kept quiet and the other just tried to make peace between “Yerima defender” and the rest of those trying to shout him down.
The quiet muslim guy was of the view that Nigeria is a democratic country and “each person has a right to believe what he wants to believe”, and thats why Senator Yerima acted the way he acted, more so “Yerima defender” defended Yerima. The quiet muslim guy was asked if he could give his own daughter out in marriage at such a tender age. The guy said “yes”. I almost burst out crying.
Back to “Yerima defender”, he said child marriage is legal in Islam and therefore Yerima didn’t break any law. We were in a public bus, I just kept looking left and right, hoping that the bus gets to Oshodi the next minute so that I can get off, coz I felt a fight might soon break out. Worse, my mind went back to Nigeria’s most popular citizen, wondering if our man believed he had a right to believe whatever he wanted to believe, even if it meant harming innocent people.
Thats why I asked the question above, if religious views are subject to the Nigerian constitution or vice versa.
The above all said and done, I would like to re-ask the question.
Putting all biases / personal issues aside, Is child/baby marriage really legal in Islam? Yes or No.
If yes, what part / parts of the quoran serve as proof / under what circumstances?
If No, is Yerima a Muslim? or perhaps he has his own brand of Islam?