December 23, 2020
Press statement on House Committee attempts to give voting rights to underaged married girls
We, the under-signed Nigerians and civil society groups, have read with utter dismay the unfortunate proposal by certain members of the House Committee on Electoral Acts amendments to push for voting rights for underaged married girls.
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.
We would like to commend and stand by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, 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.
Noting that some states in Nigeria are yet to domesticate and implement the Child Rights Act, we urge 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.
Dr. Nkechi Eke Nwankwo, Director, Women’s Leadership Group Nigeria
Prof. Ngozi Osarenren, University of Lagos
Amina Oyagbola, WISCAR Founder/Chairperson
Hafsat Abiola-Costello, President, Women in Africa Initiative
Ladi Daniella Aku, Gender Advocate
Asmau Benzies Leo, Executive Director, Center for Nonviolence and Gender Advocacy in Nigeria
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
Rasheed Rahman, Fernside & Associates