Underage Wives Not Yet Qualify To Vote, Olujimi Insists

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Biodun Olujimi, of South Senatorial District, has decided to reject any proposal desiring voting powers for underage married girls should it come up for debate in the Senate.

Olujimi, Ex-Senate Minority Leader, said this in an interview with Punch in Abuja, on Tuesday.

The Senator alleged that sponsors of such a proposal were looking for a ‘smart way’ of introducing child marriage and capture their victims in the electoral system to gain undue advantage at the detriment of other regions.

Members of the National Assembly had tried to push through an amendment to the Electoral Act so as to allow underaged wives to vote during Nigeria’s elections.

Chairman, Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Kabiru Gaya, and his counterpart in the House of representatives, Aisha Dukku, presented the proposal to a Technical Committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Some estimates put the number of child brides in homes in northern Nigeria at about 40 million, as gathered by Saharareporters.

But Olujimi said, “The idea of capturing underage married girls in our electoral system by recognising them as voters don’t make sense. Only the adult, as defined by the Nigerian constitution, should be eligible to vote. Why should we be proposing a law that would suddenly turn our young children to adults?

“The first thing to attack is the issue of child marriage. We should have a minimum. There has to be a standard to qualify a lady to be either an adult or eligible voter, and our constitution has clarified that already.

“We must stick to our voting age. The proposal is a smart way of bringing a huge chunk of people into the voting system. That is not right; it is not correct.

“Whoever that is married to an underage lady should be patient until such a girl turns 18 before, she should be allowed to vote. This may even prevent those marrying underage girls from further defiling our children.

“When the matter is brought to the floor of the Senate, we will surely be there to attack and reject it because I will not sit down and watch my 14-year-old granddaughter, turned into an adult all of a sudden because you want to commit electoral fraud.”

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