Senator Ahmad Yerima on Friday defended his marriage to a 14-year-old Egyptian girl, which sent shockwaves across the globe 13 years ago when it first came to light.
The former Zamfara State Governor drew the ire of local human rights groups when reports emerged in 2010 that he had married an alleged 13-year-old foreigner at the national mosque in Abuja.
The outrage prompted a Senate probe, as a sitting senator at the time.
However, Yerima who appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today, revealed that his Egyptian bride was older and was in the process of obtaining a master’s degree.
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When he objected to her being 13, the former governor was asked if she was 15, to which he replied: “Around that age: 14, 15.”
Yerima criticised the Child Rights Act (2003) and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015), saying whatever act is passed at the National Assembly has to be domesticated by the state assemblies.
“And once they have not done that, it’s no longer a law,” he added.
The former governor alleged that former President Olusegun Obasanjo “tried to smuggle the Child Rights Act.
“He passed it at the National Assembly through some manipulations but I don’t think any state in the North domesticated it and passed it.”
Asked to share his views on whether children deserve the right to education and other freedoms enshrined in the Child Rights Act, he argued that marriage could not stop education.
Probed further on the level of education of his Egyptian wife, he said: “She’s doing her master’s degree now.”
Yerima also noted that his daughter, whom he had given away in marriage at the age of 16, “is doing her PhD in London”.
$100,000 for her hand
On the claim that he paid $100,000 as dowry for the Egyptian girl’s hand in marriage, the former Zamfara State Governor noted that “it’s not dowry.”
He explained further that “all other things” stipulated as conditions for the marriage were counted to arrive at that figure.
“Provision of the house, provision of dowry, the dresses that she has to wear, everything [in] total,” he said. “At that time, it was just N15 million.”
One can give as much as is requested of them in marriage by Sharia Law, Yerima disclosed.
“Whatever you have to do in marriage is clearly stipulated under the Sharia Law. You have to provide for a house for the girl, if you’re marrying her, like, from the condition the Egyptian government’s law provides,” he said.