Minor: Parents Cry Out Over Forced Marriage

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By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna

Parents of a sixteen year old girl, Janet Habila have cried out against the forceful conversation of their ward to the religion of Islam and married to a middle aged man, Nasiru Yusuf allegedly by a Sharia Court Judge at Erena, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger state.

The aggrieved father of the girl, Mr. Habila Gambo through his lawyer, have sought the intervention of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Maria Dzukogi and the state Judicial Service Commission for justice, reversion of the forceful conversation and return of their ward from the hands of her adaptor.

Counsel to Mr. Habila Gambo, Daniel Omokor said in a petition seeking for the intervention of the two afore mentioned, that his client’s consent were not sought by either the presiding Judge of the Sharia Court or the man who took Janet Habila as wife at a tender age.

The Counsel alleged also that, Janet, a minor, was compulsorily converted to the religion of Islam without her parents’ knowledge by the Sharia Court Judge, Alhaji Umar Shehu who refused to respect the right of the girl.

The petition asked for the immediate suspension and investigation of the Judge for his role in the hurried contraption of the marriage without approval from the parents and for his disrespect to the rights of a minor.

The marriage of Janet to Nasiru Yusuf was said to have been contrapted in the Court at Erena by the Judge.

The petition argued that since the said marriage was contracted by the Judge in the absence of the father of the girl and without his approval or blessing nor those of any of his relatives, the said marriage is a nullity.

The petitioner while seeking for the immediate dissolution of the forceful marriage and conversation to the religion of Islam, insisted that Janet whose Christian name was changed to Zainab and then married out to Nasiru without a word from her parents was an abuse of her fundamental rights and the right of consent.

It said since there is no compulsion to religion, and that minors’ rights need to be protected by law, the false claims that the girl had converted to Islam on her own in the absence of her parents is a made up story.

The petition dated 24th April, 2017, and filed by Daniel Omokor, Counsel to the parents of the girl, appealed to the NJSC to look into the matter expeditiously in the interest of justice, fairness and peace.

It said the Judge in question should be suspended from holding court to allow for free, thorough and unbiased investigation of the role he played in the illegal union as the presiding Judge of the Sharia court.

The petitioner argued that the judge should have known that under the Child Rights Act, Janet is a minor who is not of the right frame of mind nor is of the rightful disposition to consent to any such union as marriage proposals or change of religion at such a tender age of innocence.

The petition revealed that on 15th March, 2017, the father of the girl was summoned by the judge to appear in Court the next day.

At the Court, he was told that his daughter, Janet had converted to Islam and that her name had been changed to Zainab and had been married to Nasiru Yusuf of Erena village.

The petition said despite Gambo’s vehement objections to the union and forceful conversation, the judge looked away and ordered him out of the Court.

The petition therefore noted that the role of the judge in the whole saga smacks of complicity and is a suspect.

The petitioner is seeking for the arrest of Nasiru Yusuf for illegally adopting his daughter and forcefully taking her as his wife at grossly tender age and in contravention of the Niger state Child’s Rights Act.

The petition asked the state’s Chief Judge and Judicial Service Commission to wade into the matter and grant him his prayers to have his daughter back to him.

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