Senate refutes approving early marriage law

By The Citizen

The Senate's Deputy President and Chairman of its Committee on Constitution Amendment, Ike Ekweremadu, has declared that the House has not amended the constitution to encourage early marriage.

Ekweremadu said a press briefing in Abuja that the senate only tried to delete an existing clause in the constitution which it considered discriminatory against women.

He described the controversy trailing its voting on the issue of the age for enouncing citizenship as a product of ignorance and mischief.

According to him, 'the decision of the Senate on this part has been wildly misinterpreted, misreported, and totally taken out of context.'

Ekweremadu said: 'Section 29(4) (b) was recommended for deletion because the committee considered it discriminatory. Section 29(4) (a) has already defined 'full age' as age 18 and above. We considered it gender discriminatory and imbalance to place the man and woman on different scales in matters of citizenship renunciation.

'If there is no gender discrimination in matters relating to voting rights, education age, driving age, and so on, we felt this discrimination was abnormal and, in fact, an inelegant drafting. As such, it was recommended for deletion, but could not pass eventually. In essence, the Senate has not done anything new to that part of the constitution.'

Ekweremadu stated that the issue voted upon had nothing to do with Islam or marriage.

He added: 'On the issue of Section 29, I want to appeal to Nigerians to please show understanding, to possibly read this section and understand that the issue has nothing to do with early marriage.

'It has nothing to do with Islam. Essentially, it has to do with the renunciation of citizenship.

'So, you have to give it a proper perspective. I want to assure Nigerians that in the future, we are ready to revisit it if Nigerians feel strongly about it.

'We have no bill to approve early marriage. We are not sponsoring any bill against Islam. This particular provision has been in our Constitution since 1979. Ours was an attempt to remove that aspect so that men and women would have equal footing regarding the issue of renunciation of citizenship. And we will never support early marriage.'