YERIMA: PAYING FOR HIS SINS?

By NBF News
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'…I can tell you, I pray that God allows us to live long to see how God is going to deal with him (Yerima) because I can assure you whoever makes a mockery of the word of God is not going to end well.'

Those were the words of Senator Lawal Shuaibu, a fellow Zamfara indigene like Senator Sani Yerima, who was emphatic that God would judge the latter for making mockery of Islam.

Shuaibu, a former lawmaker (1999-2007), made the comment in an exclusive interview published in the Sunday Sun more than two years ago, precisely on January 13, 2008. He was reacting to what he termed the politicization of Sharia, the Islamic legal code introduced in 1999 in Zamfara when Yerima assumed office as governor of the state.

The Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) candidate in Zamfara in the 2007 governorship election is not known as a prophet of doom, but if the happenings around the former governor turned Senator are anything to go by, analysts say it appears the once 'funky Mallam' on the campus of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) may have began paying for his 'deceitful life while holding sway as governor,' and superintending over the first supposedly Islamic enclave, within a lawfully constituted Nigeria, under Nigerian law, in Nigeria.

Sunday Sun findings in Zamfara, Kano and Kaduna reveal that the former governor's latest marriage to an Egyptian 'minor' was not the first time he would be taking a baby bride. He likes them small, reveals one of his former close associates.

Investigation in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, also reveal that the fourth wife the former governor divorced to pave way for the current one was also married by Yerima in 2007 as a 'minor.' Although her actual age could not be ascertained at press time, the girl, Sunday Sun can authoritatively reveal, was far below the age of 18 at the time the marriage was contracted.

Interestingly too, it was further learnt Yerima had to send his then fourth wife, a full grown adult, packing for 'no just cause' to accommodate the immediate past fourth wife of the former governor.

How the 2007 marriage was contracted
Sunday Sun's findings in Gusau reveal that the former governor, shortly after leaving office, sighted the girl on the street of Gusau and asked his men to bring her to him, the same way traditional rulers in those days, who sight a beautiful woman and just pronounced her their wife and such a woman bundled to their palaces, would do.

But, unlike the traditional rulers, Yerima was said to have entered into negotiation with the girl's suitor, as he never applied any force, even though his affluence may have also worked in his favour.

Once the lady came face-to-face with Yerima, she was said to have been mesmerized by Yerima's affluence, even as the latter was said to have promised to make life meaningful for both the parents of the girl and her former suitor, who was forced to further his education for the 'love' of the girl.

Incidentally, the same year (2007) the young man who had returned to school, as a condition to marry the girl, graduated was when Yerima contracted his marriage with the girl. The marriage, findings reveal, was contracted in the house of a respected jurist in the state, on the road leading to the National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Gusau's house, on Muslim Foundation Road, in Gusau, the state capital.

The father of the girl, whose name was given as Hassan Dailashe, a Fulani, is the driver to the jurist and is said to be his brother.

Investigation further revealed that the father of the girl never wanted to give her to the former governor. But because the jurist then was eyeing the state's Chief Judge seat, he was said to have influenced the marriage.

In the end, however, the jurist was said to have lost out, as a woman was appointed in his place even though it was argued in some quarters that the jurist's health condition then may have worked against him.

Sunday Sun further learnt that Yerima made good his promise, as he instantly bought a house for the father of the girl. And for his competitor, the former suitor, he instantly bought him a vehicle and offered a cash gift of N1million to placate him for losing his 'love' to a 'powerful billionaire' who wanted the 'minor' at all costs.

Three years into the marriage, upon seeing another 'minor,' this time a foreigner, Yerima was again said to have sent his immediate past wife packing.

'Gusau is a very small place. If the girl had done anything bad, the story would have been everywhere by now. But the mere fact we have not heard anything before the lady was sent packing shows that nothing happened. It was only done to allow him marry another wife,' an insider in Gusau volunteered.

Parting gift for the divorce
It was also gathered that Yerima did not just send the former wife packing. She was given a parting gift of N500,000 cash, bought a house for her and was handed a Peugeot 406, which they say the lady's father now cruise around town.

Islamic clerics, former wife's family keep mum
All efforts to speak with the family of the divorced wife proved abortive, just as Islamic clerics in Kaduna and Gusau cautioned against misrepresenting Islam over the controversy.

'We are Muslims and we accept whatever has happened as an act of God. It will be ungodly to begin to discuss what transpired between us and Yerima on the pages of newspaper,' the family of the immediate past fourth wife was said to have told one of Sunday Sun's linkmen in Gusau, when their views on the controversy was sought on Wednesday.

Asked about the reaction of the people in Gusau to the incident, another insider said: 'You know, in Zamfara, especially in Gusau town, people like the man very well. Forget about what you guys write in the papers, the man is still popular. And because the incumbent governor is also messing up, nobody is saying anything bad about the man's action, at least publicly, in Gusau. Let the governor dare say anything, you will see the reaction from people,' a Gusau resident said on Friday.

Some Islamic clerics, who spoke in confidence, told Sunday Sun that if Yerima was actually in the habit of divorcing women just to marry another, then his habit can never find a place in Islam, as there are conditions guiding marriage and divorce.

Available Islamic authorities, including the Holy Qur'an consulted by this reporter, indicate that no age was fixed for marriage. The Qur'an, for instance, only talks about menstruation. But the same Qur'an talks about maturity, which, findings reveal, is not only that of physical maturity but also biological maturity.

Invariably, since Islam accommodates science, analysts argue that Yerima should have availed himself of the scientific implications of his actions, especially because even though a nine-year-old can menstruate in this jet age, his vagina can certainly not be ready for sexual intercourse, let alone bearing children.

On divorce, the Hadith (Sayings of the Prophet) says: 'Verily, the most hateful to Allah and the lawful things is divorce.' The Hadith was authenticated by Abu Dauhud and Ibn Majah.

I don't agree with Child Right Act - Yerima
All efforts to get Yerima speak on the controversy had met a brick wall. But he broke his silence on Thursday in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, where he insisted that his latest wife was not 13, even as he failed to disclose her real age.

Sunday Sun however gathered from an authoritative source that the Egyptian girl may not be 13 but 16 years. This may have explained the reason Yerima was equally evasive on the latest wife's real age, since a 16-year-old girl, under the Nigerian law, is not yet an adult.

'It is true that I got married but it is not true that I married a 13-year-old girl. What I want to say on this issue is, when I was governor, I said on several occasion that Allah has made me to take life like any other Muslim. All the things that Allah said we should do and all the things that the Prophet said we should do, I have tried to do them.

'I have not done anything that violates Sharia. So I am not bothered about anything if anybody accuses me and I don't think I have committed any offence,' the former governor said.

Excerpts from the said interview, as monitored by Sunday Sun.

How old is the girl you married?
There are laws laid down by Allah regarding marriage. In my position as a Muslim, I followed all the procedures for marriage in Islam. If I had violated any provision of the law in Islam, I would have been disturbed; the issue of age does not arise.

There are speculations that the girl is an Egyptian

Yes. There are those Allah prohibits us from marrying. There are those He permits us to marry. I married the one Allah permits us to marry.

There is so much controversy surrounding this marriage

It is the handiwork of my political opponents and those against Sharia. I introduced Sharia in Zamfara in 1999.

Didn't it occur to you that this marriage would generate this kind of controversy?

Anything I want to do, I always ask myself whether Allah prohibits it.

Among those opposed to your marriage are women groups who are alleging that you divorced one of your wives to marry this girl. Is that true?

This is my private life; Islam is a religion with dos and don'ts.'

They are saying that this marriage violates the provisions of the Child Right Act

This law they are talking about was enacted and we did not sign it. I don't agree with that law.