A US-based online activist, Eme Awa, has collected more than 15,000 signatures needed to petition the United Nations over the Senate’s passage of a resolution to retain the provision of Section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
Under the section, a married underage girl is deemed to be an adult. With the retention of the contentious provision in the constitution, the section can be interpreted to mean that even a day old child, once married, would be considered to be an adult.
Awa started the collection of signatures on July 17 on change.org, a go-to site for web protests. International organisations, such as Amnesty International and the Humane Society, have at one time or the other hosted their petitions on the website.
The petition organiser says she has made contacts with a top official at the United Nations who, according to her, is willing to assist with a formal presentation of the online petitions when the required number is attained. The petition is titled, United Nations: Stop The Nigerian Senate from Making Under-Age Marriage Law.
“Keep urging others to sign up. The more in number we are, the better the outcome. We are making progress with this petition. Please share it, take it with you to churches or mosques. Let’s make the people’s power count for once,’’ Eme explains on the website.
Many Nigerians have been besieged with the web link on their BlackBerry Messenger, electronic mail box, Facebook and other social networking sites to join the campaign and ultimately append their signatures to the petition.
Bloggers such as Linda Ikeji and Ladun Liadi also featured the link to the petition signing website on their blogs, a move that has seen the campaign attract an appreciable level of support from Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.
One of those who signed the petition, Okiemute Patrick, who according to information provided on the site, is based in Lagos, says, “I do not understand why right thinking grown up men will allow for this perversion. What possible gratification can one get from marrying or sleeping with a child?
“I do not get it. Shouldn’t more pressing things be passed into law? Please, let us allow children be children and not rob them of their innocence simply because there are ‘men needs!”