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Thursday, October 11, 2012

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I saw this story on TRIBUNE newspaper and I decided to copy it.

Twelve years old Aminat Hamisu, a Class 1 student
of Ansar Ud Deen Junior Secondary School in Ado
Odo/Ota Local Government is in dire need of
someone to save her life from impending disaster.
She is a subject of a forceful marriage to a man, old
enough to be her grandfather. She lost her father
in the course of the confusion that ensued over her
planned marriage to a septuagenarian. Aminat is
supposed to be a Junior Secondary School 2
student but had to miss a whole academic session
as a result of the fact that she had to escape from
being forcefully engaged to a man, who should
have been her guardian rather than husband. The
insistence of the old man to marry her has also
resulted in her missing classes.

Forty three years old Salamatu Hamisu, the mother
of the 12 years old girl, while speaking with the
Nigerian Tribune, appealed to well-meaning
Nigerians and human rights organisations to save
her daughter from forceful marriage to a man bent
on marrying the girl. The mother of seven, while
narrating the whole episode to Nigerian Tribune
stated that it all started in 2001, when a man
identified as Mallam Ibraheem Mairago, who was
like a father to her insisted on marrying Aminat,
who was just 11 years of age at that time.

According to her, a certain Mallam Alli had told
Mairago that he had a dream that if he could marry
Aminat, his riches would multiply. Meirago
believed Mallam Alli and instantly approached the
father of Aminat, Alhaji Hamisu Aliyu, now
deceased, asking for the hand of his daughter in

"Initially my husband refused but, when Mairago
promised him some goodies, he accepted the
marriage proposal without telling either the girl or
me. Mairago promised to give him a portion at the
ram market in Mile 12. He also promised to always
involve him in Quranic recitation for wealthy
people in Lagos," Salamatu narrated. She also
stated that "One day, my husband brought some
yards of cloth home and said that it was meant for
my daughter. I asked him where the cloth was from
and he said that Alhaji Mairago bought it for her. I
asked her for what reason and he said he did not
know. I rejected the cloth and when I prodded him
further he confessed to me that Meirago wanted to
marry our daughter."

The planned marriage led to a clash between the
household of the late Mallam Hamisu Aliyu, forcing
him to report the case to his brother in law in
Sagamu. The brother in law also initially kicked
against the planned wedding but later succumbed,
in a circumstance Salamatu described as
suspicious. "When I refused to support the
marriage proposal, my late husband reported me
to my brother in Sagamu and my brother also
kicked against the marriage but later he took
Mairago to my brother and it was agreed that
Mairago should pay N50,000 as the bride price. At
this stage, my daughter was not even aware that
somebody wanted to marry her," the mother said.
She also said that "When the situation got to a
stage my daughter was informed and she became
really devastated. Because of the marriage talk,
she ran away from home for four days. On the day
she ran away, I woke her early in the morning and
told her to go and pray. For more than three hours,
I did not see her and we looked around Mile 12
Market but she was nowhere to be found. It was
after four days that we saw her. The situation grew
so tense that the deceased Aliyu divorced his wife,
who was then nursing a two-month- old baby. The
woman said that she was sent away from her
husband's house and she had to live on menial
jobs in Mowe area of Ogun State. Before the death
of Aminat's father, her suitor forced him and the
mother's brother to refund the N50,000 naira he
paid to them as the bride price. Though the father
was said not to have taken out of the money when
it was paid, the brother-in-law collected N40,000,
while a certain Alhaji Manga also went away with

The refund of the bride price, ordinarily, should
have been the end of the proposed marriage but
Alhaji Meirago kept on pestering the girl's family
that he wanted to marry the underage girl. He was
accused of victimising the late Aliyu, who was then
working under him. "Before my husband died, he
got to know that I had relocated to Sango in Ogun
State, where I was staying with my cousin, Mallam
Thani Bala. He even pleaded with my cousin not to
allow me return to Mowe. By this time Alhaji
Mairago had married another wife for him. My
husband still loved me and he was coming to see
me, even sometime he would sleep in my cousin's
house," the woman claimed. She further claimed
that "When Alhaji Mairago got to know that my
husband was still coming to see me in my cousin's
place, he changed to him totally. Even when they
told him that my husband was ill, he said that as
long as my husband was coming to see me, he
should die."

The death of the father of the 12-year-old girl has,
however, not changed the situation as Mallam
Mairago has turned his attention to Mallam Bala,
who he accused of habouring his wife. According to
the mother, "Mairago has continued to insist that
Aminat is his wife and that he wants the police to
force Thani to release the young girl to him." In his
reaction to the issue, Alhaji Mairago, who spoke
through his lawyer, Mr. Jeleel Bashir, said that the
proposed marriage was in accordance with Islamic
Law. He said that he had secured the approval of
the bride's father and paid the required bride price
as stipulated by Islamic law. The lawyer claimed
that there were witnesses to the marriage between
Alhaji Mairago and Aminat, adding that the only
person, who had the right to dissolve the marriage
was Alhaji Mairago himself.

On the claim by the girl's mother that the bride
price had been returned, the lawyer said that "I am
not aware that the bride price had been returned.
Even if the bride price was returned, that does not
mean that the marriage has been dissolved."

According to Bashir, Islamic law permits such
marriage, even if the bride to be is not in support
of the marriage. "Islamic law allows a guardian to
choose for the girl if she is underage," he said. He,
however, said that the purpose of such marriage is
not essentially for sex but for the suitor to take
care of the underage girl.

The girl, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune,
kicked against the planned marriage. She insisted
on completing her education before thinking of
marriage and added that the man was even far
older than her father. "I don't want to marry now; I
want to finish my schooling. Alhaji's children
cannot even be my friends because they are older
than I am. I don't want to marry Alhaji. He should
leave me to complete my education," the 12-year-
old girl said.

-Nigerian TRIBUNE

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