Wednesday, March 9, 2016

THE ESE ORURU SAGA: WHEN RELIGION AND/OR ETHNICITY CONTRAVENES THE LAWS OF THE LAND…AND THE CASE FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN!

At this point I do not believe there is anyone in Nigeria who hasn’t heard the name: Ese Oruru. Okay, for the sake of those (within and without Nigeria) who haven’t, let me give a brief summary. Ese Oruru is the (now) 14year old girl who was abducted from her home town in Bayelsa (in Nigeria’s south-south) on August 12th 2015, when she was 13, by a certain man named Yunusa. She was taken by this Yunusa, to Kano State (in Northern Nigeria); and there, she was converted to Islam and allegedly wed to this Yunusa…all without the consent and knowledge of her parents! Upon discovery of Ese’s absence, her mother immediately journeyed to Kano State the following day (August 13th) to retrieve her daughter. She lodged a complaint with the Kano State police command. Along the line, it was disclosed that Ese had been taken to the palace of the Emir of Kano; so she proceeded there. But when she got there, she was allegedly ridiculed and insulted by the youths at the Emir’s palace; and she was told that her daughter was now in the custody of the Emirate Council. After all attempts to retrieve her child proved futile, she proceeded back to Bayelsa, heartbroken. Ese’s father then undertook his own journey to Kano, where he was chided by the Kano Police, for lying. According to them, Ese was in fact 18years old. Mr. Oruru then had to convince them that his daughter was only 13, and thus, still a minor. Again, after all attempts to secure Ese’s release proved futile, Mr. Oruru return back to Bayelsa, empty handed! From August 12th 2015, up till March 2016, Ese Oruru was held in Kano! Not until large numbers of Nigerians began to cry out on social media, did the authorities begin to move their muscles a bit. The former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, reached out to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi Lamido, who then informed her that he had already ordered the release of the young girl. Senator Ben Bruce then called out the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, on twitter, asking him to secure Ese’s release. The opposition party (PDP) also cried out. People began yelling. Then the IGP, Solomon Arase, made a very troubling statement, which was that the release of Ese Oruru depended on the intervention of the Emir of Kano!
In 2003, Nigeria passed the “Childs Right Act”. It is supposedly a law to protect the rights of children. But so far, it has been ineffective. Studies have shown that as at 2015, 17% of girl children under the age of 15, were already married. The percentage rises when you get to the North-East, where 48% of girl children under the age of 15 are married! The enactment of the Child Rights Act is largely dependent on enforcement by individual states and so far, only 24 states have enforced the law! Most Northern states have not…and herein lies the problem.
In 2010, a Northern Senator, Ahmed Yerima, married a 13year old Egyptian girl. When people began yelling, his response was that his religion permitted such! Now, for the IGP to say that the release of Ese Oruru was dependent on the involvement of the Emir of Kano, one then begins to wonder: “is Kano State a country within a country?”…and “does religion and/or ethnicity now supersede the law(s) of Nigeria?”
While social media was agog with disbelief and anger over the issue, a certain individual who is obviously of Northern Nigerian heritage; gave an incredulous take on the matter. His grouse with the so-called Yunusa was not that the man had contravened the laws of the land by committing an obvious crime which is for all intents and purposes, punishable under law! Rather, he was peeved because according to him, the girl (Ese) was so ugly, that he wondered why Yunusa did not instead choose any other pretty (probably under-aged) girl from the North, to wed! So I ask again, “Is Kano State a country within a country?”…and “does religion and/or ethnicity now supersede the law(s) of Nigeria?”
Why would youths at the palace of the Emir haul insults at a suffering mother just because she went to seek out her child there? Why did they think Yunusa’ actions were acceptable? Why did the Emirate Council scold the police when they asked them to kindly hand Ese back to her father, when he revealed that she was only 13, and not 18? In fact, why did they accept Ese from Yunusa, in the first place? Why were they still holding her even though the Emir had ordered her release? And then, why did her release even have to be dependent on the Emir? Is the Emir now the law? Or is he greater than the law? Is Kano State now a country, not answerable to Nigeria? What about the “criminal” Yunusa? Does his Muslim religion and/or Northern heritage now place him above the law(s) of Nigeria; or not subject to them? Why was he not thrown into jail “immediately” Ese’s mother sounded the alarm over her child’s abduction? Will his case now serve as a deterrent against such actions in future? Will this case now lead to the enactment of the Child Rights Act in all 36 states of the federation?
These are all questions that must be carefully answered, if we are to provide a better future for the Nigerian child. They must also be answered correctly, if we are to prove the supremacy of the laws of our country Nigeria, over any religion and/or ethnicity within its borders. Yes, we all have our religious beliefs, and they are important in our lives, but when they contravene basic laws, then there are bound to be problems! Even aside from laws, I find it personally insane, that anyone would think that a 13year old child if of marriageable age! At 13, a girl child is not even fully aware of who she is as an individual…at 13, her sexual organs are still yet immature…heck, at 13, some females have not even begun to see their monthly periods! So in my opinion, underage marriage is nothing short of barbaric and inhumane!
Nigeria is a nation of laws. The nation is superior to any state within its borders. Religion cannot be an excuse for blatant disregard and disobedience of the law. A crime is a crime…whether it is committed by an Ibo man, or an Hausa man; or whether it is committed by a Christian or a Muslim! Yunusa has obviously committed a crime. No matter what he says, Ese is a minor, who cannot give her consent to anything! He has to be punished! And now, to save the saddest part for last, even though Ese has now been returned to her parents, she is pregnant! Yet another unfortunate child, is about to birth her own child! Her life is changed- hopefully, not ruined- forever! My final statement is this- let children be children…not spouses! We must all do our parts to protect the rights of the child, today!

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Nice one dear..you are right,we must protect the child's right as an individual and a nation.

Alex Sobless said...

Nice one dear..you are right,we must protect the child's right as an individual and a nation.