Alleged Child Marriage: Court Summons Bride
Habiba’s father, Ishiaku Tanko and three others had approached a Katsina State High Court, presided over by Justice Baraka Wali, requesting for the enforcement of their fundamental rights, as enshrined in the 1999 Nigeria constitution and international charters over the issue.
Hearing of the case was, however, stalled after the Judge read a letter allegedly from Habiba, dissociating herself from the application.
The letters, one signed and handwritten and another unsigned but type-written were tendered in court by the presiding judge shortly after the court commenced sitting.
The applicants, had approached the court through their counsel, Yakubu Saleh Bawa, seeking the enforcement of their fundamental human rights.
They maintained that enforcing fundamental Rights was in consonance with “Order 2, Rule 1 of the Fundamental rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009”.
The first applicant (Habiba’s father) had placed before the court a birth certificate to substantiate his claim that she was a minor.
Counsel to the state, who equally represented the governor and the State Attorney General, Abubakar Umar, a senior state counsel, maintained that the court should recognise Habiba’s letter.
Counsel for Jemilu, A.B.K. Nasir, aside aligning with Abubakar’s submission, added that Habiba was Jemilu’s wife and she could write the letter under Order 13, Rule 1 of fundamental human rights.
Child marriage is high in the northern part of Nigeria, a practice that the Canadian government had sought a stronger partnership with the Nigerian government to reduce.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Christopher Thornley, said there was a growing international concern about child marriage, pointed out that Nigeria had more cases of child brides in sub-Saharan Africa.
After he made the request, the Nigerian government took a firm step to stop child marriage in the nation, with a campaign to protect the girl child launched on November 29 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Professor Osinbajo explained that all departments and agencies will be made to ensure compliance as the country has set a 2030 target to totally end child marriage.
The campaign, which is launched alongside 15 other African Union member countries is to highlight the physical, mental and social effects of marrying a girl before the age of 18.