Thursday, 18 July 2013

Senate Rejects Autonomy for LGs, Okays Marriage for Underage Women

The much-awaited voting on recommendations of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution took place on Tuesday with the parliament throwing out the recommendation of a six-year single term for the president and governors.

It also rejected autonomy for local governments as well as the moves to separate the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from that of the minister of justice.

On its part, the House of Representatives, which was billed to begin debate on the report of its Constitution Review Committee Tuesday, has shifted it, following disagreement over the procedure to adopt in carrying out the exercise.

The voting in the Senate, which lasted for about five hours, also witnessed the adoption of Section 9 of the draft bill of the amendment, which empowers the National Assembly to make an entirely new constitution for the country.

The senators also adopted Section 3A of the draft, which rejected the president’s assent to the amended constitution before taking effect.

The Senate also resolved to alter Section 29 (a) of the constitution that stipulates that a woman shall not be qualified for marriage until she attains the 18 years as they deleted age specification for women being married from the draft constitution and left the marriage age for women open.

While deleting the section from the draft constitution yesterday, the Senate claimed that a woman is deemed to be “full of age” once she is married irrespective of the age she did so.

The parliament, which had earlier retained this section by its voting, opted to alter it in submission to the alarm raised by Senator Ahmad Sani (Zamfara West), who claimed that the provision which stipulates a certain age for women before getting married, was at variance with Islamic law.

After a moment of controversy, Senate President David Mark asked his colleagues to vote afresh on the provision, a situation that eventually went in favour of Sani, who, thereafter, thanked the Senate president and his colleagues for supporting his cause. It is worthy of note that Sani had two years ago married a 13-year-old Egyptian in violation of the constitutional provision.


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