Senate Will Never Support Child Marriage - Ekweremadu

The Deputy President of Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has said that the Senate never voted in support of child marriage during the consideration of the Bill for an Act to further amend the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as there was no clause proposing any such amendment.
Senator Ekweremadu who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution spoke at a press conference on the progress of the Constitution Review exercise at the National assembly in Abuja, Tuesday.
He observed that the non approval of the Committee’s recommendation to delete Section 29 subsection 4(b), which has been in existence since 1979 had been “wildly misinterpreted, misreported and taken out of context”, reiterating that Section 29 (4)(b) relates specifically and unambiguously to issues of renunciation of citizenship and not marriage.
Senator Ekweremadu said: “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 them 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.”
The Deputy President said the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution recommended 31 clauses in the amendment Bill affecting 26 Sections as well as First and Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution. He noted that while some clauses passed in whole, others passed partially, while some others were entirely rejected by the Senate.
On the next steps, Senator Ekweremadu said the Senate would await the version of the Constitution Amendment Bill to be passed by the House of Representatives this week, after which both Chambers would meet in a Conference Committee to harmonize their positions before transmitting a common Bill to the State Houses of Assembly for ratification.

He noted that only clauses that received the support of a simple majority of two-thirds of the State Houses of Assembly would be deemed to have been successfully amended.
The Deputy President of Senate therefore urged members of the State Assemblies to act “expeditiously and in national interest when the Bill eventually gets to them”.

Uche Anichukwu
Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate