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Posts tagged ‘Northen Nigeria Muslims’

Orrery of Misplaced Arguments: Yarima, the Constitution, and the Child-Bride

Ahmed Garba

Once again our “hero” is in the news. You know him, Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima, the self-appointed champion of Islam in Nigeria. That is, champion only with respect to matters relating to the general vicinity of the vulvar of young girls. The man is full of steam this time, even threatening that he will “slap the jinn” out of anyone who dares to curtail his right to marry young girls. But, trouble is, this time around, both Yarima and his antagonists over-shot their respective arguments. The matter at hand was the review of section 29-4b of the Nigerian constitution. More precisely, the issue of a person’s right to keep or denounce their citizenship. Succinctly put, the relevant section says, among other things, two categories of people can renounce their citizenship:

1. A person who has attained the age of 18 years or above.
2. A married woman (presumably of any age).

It is that second provision that set off the sparks. I suppose, the constitution review committee wanted to eliminate this second provision, and that threatens Yarima’s connubial interest. So, the “brother” came out swinging, arguing that such elimination then deprives a married woman under the age of 18, the right to denounce her citizenship. However, Yarima over-extended his point when he front-loaded his argument with all manners of rational from God, to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), to all that is Islam, which consequently gave his ardent antagonists something to bite on. This is the long and short of the issue: The section is not about setting an age limit for marrying or marrying off young girls!

Then why are they all up in arms? how did the country become engulfed in debate, argument, and fight over Islam, child-bride, pedophilia, right to marry a 13 year-old, etc.? The reason is the culmination of several factors, including: (a) Yarima, the lightening-rod is in the center of the debate; (b) the country has been witnessing pent-up resentment against anything with the word Islam, Muslims, or northern Nigeria in it.

Some of the series of salvos fired by the so-called social service organizations and other cadre of activists were blindingly off the mark, because they were engendered by hate, and therefore, laced with venomous utterances that ended up framing the debate off-kilter. Anybody who has taken the time to read the section of the constitution in question will quickly realize that there is no mention of under-age marriage or marrying off a 13 year-old. Consequently, we simply ended up with an orrery of unwarranted, and misplaced arguments/debates. Yerima’s antagonists were incensed that the likes of him will even rise on the senate floor to argue a position that they consider as backward and ancient as Babylonia. How dare he, of all people?

For his part, Yarima bungled things when he chose to couch his argument in terms of his right as a Muslim to marry young girls or marry them off. Here is how the man allegedly made his case on the floor of the senate:

“In Islam, a girl can be given out in marriage as early as 6 years old, but consummation of the marriage can only be done when the girl becomes physically mature,” I live in a city where young girls at the age of 12 have already became serial fornicators and cannot count the number of man they’ve Were Intimate with…. I live in a City where primary school children disvirgin themselves behind toilets on Valentine day. ….I live in a city where young girls flood the street at night looking for men that would give them N500 to be intimate with them …..I live in a city where parents send their daughters out overseas to prostitute and send dollars down. ……I live in a City where Government officials pick undergraduates from University car parks with Coastal Buses to wild sex parties.….. I live in a city where abortion is so common that even a Chemist shop owner can perform abortion with just N2,500……..These are your daughters, and this should worry you and not Yerima’s private matters. So ask me again why I support early marriage and I will slap the Jinn out of your head.”


Sadly, as he was venting, nobody on the senate floor, not his Political Assistant (assuming he has one, if he has not squandered the money earmarked for that position on another 13 year-old), not even the Senate President, (what a wish) had the common sense to “redirect” the man. At least somebody should have pointed the man to the main issue at hand and confine him to it. To borrow from an American political strategist, James Carville, it is “citizenship” stupid. I suppose this odious failure is what happens when people are consumed by the tyranny of small-mindedness.

To be fair to Yarima, the section of the constitution being debated was inserted by those who crafted the 1999 constitution–a time when Yarima could not have been anywhere near our hallow hollow chambers–and it is hard to believe that the authors were some sort of “obnoxious Salafis”, nor did they ever expect the likes of Yarima to come along and upturn their intent, and use the provision as a launch pad for some debate on what, and what not Islam allows. Let us also remember that, whenever the subject of child-bride comes up, Yarima has no choice but enter “survival mode”, because the issue is close to home and God knows, the man does not want to be criminalized.

There is nothing wrong with Yarima wanting to do his part for Islam but, he doesn’t have to expend his energy only on matters revolving around the genitalia of young girls. As a senator representing one of the poorest states in the nation, who also proudly cloak himself in the garb of Islam, you’d think that foremost in Yarima’s agenda would be the upliftment of his people, a much more relevant duty for a so-called champion of Islam. Young kids, mostly boys are dying of poisoning in his Zamfara state and the man is totally unperturbed by that. High level of illiteracy, unemployment, lack of industrial development, etc. are all ravaging his constituency, and ‘brother man’ is throwing down the gauntlet on the issue of child-bride. Here is a man who ever since he entered the senate has been dead-silent, and when he finally emerged, he came out like a cross between a gargoyle and a gremlin.

The quote above, which Yarima used to buttress his argument actually speaks to his failing as a senator, and the failure of the entire Nigerian legislature. When a country is faced with such series of scourge as he had listed, aren’t the people’s representatives supposed to address the problem? In fact, it can be argued that if Yerima, himself, despite being a Muslim rose to fight the bane that he had identified and enumerated, Allah could very well reward him, even if the beneficiaries are not Muslims. Rather than spending his energy berating those “in the life”, would he not have been a better Muslim if he had chosen to work with other “legislatooters” to change the lives of those unfortunate enough to be bedeviled by such misfortune? Having described Abuja as if it were Rome under Caligula, what solution did Yerima propose?

Now that we know that Libidinous Yarima can fight to the death to preserve his right to chase the ‘patari’ (undergarment) of young girls, it is pertinent to ask: What has Yarima done for 13 year-old boys, or their mothers, for the sake of Islam? Scandalous, scandalous man.

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