ISLAMIC religion frowns, forbids early girl marriage and would not support it, Haroun Muhammad Eze, Deputy National Legal Adviser of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has said.
Eze, said this at the NSCIA Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday during a courtesy visit by Wanda Adu Foundation, a civil society organization that is partnering with the Council on ways to prevent sexual abuses on the girl child in Nigeria.
Receiving the Foundation on behalf of the Chairman of NSCIA, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Eze, expressed the readiness of the Council to always support all efforts to tackle child sexual abuse in the country.
“Islam abhors forced marriage, Islam frowns at the early marriage of any girl-child. Islam will not support any of these and as Muslims who know the teaching of Islam, we will stand with any organisation, whosoever, that promotes upright society,” he said.
“It is quite unfortunate that these social vices you have enumerated are also prevalent in the Muslim community where we have laws in the Quran and in the practices of the Messenger of Allah (SAW).
“That only we should abide by those laws, by those rules and regulations we will not see even one case of sexual abuse, of child abuse, of forced marriage, of infant marriages whether by consent or otherwise.
“We need to go back to our laws and as Muslims, we need to go back to the laws of the Almighty as enshrined in the Quran.
“We are with you and we hope that this partnership will propel our nation in the right direction and will help to reduce the spate of incessant occurrences of these menaces we are seeing in the society.”
Furthermore, he said that Islam frown at force marriage of infant girl child, adding that people misunderstood the Quran when they said that prophet Mohammed married one of his wives, Aisha at the age of nine years.
The Islamic scholar noted that in Islam a girl child must not be married until she gets to maturity age, stressing that it’s only at maturity age that the child can give her consent.”
“That’s telling you that a child must not be married if the child is not matured.”
Earlier, Wanda Ebe, the Executive Director of the foundation, who led a team from the organization on a visit to NSCIA , said the move was to solicit the support of Islamic leaders on the protection of children from sexual predators in the society.
“We know that religious leaders play a very vital role in our society and we deem it fit to use them as a tool for awareness creation and advocacy as well because everyone respects his or her religious leader,” Wanda said.
“We have also discovered a lot of sodomy going on in different communities and are not limited to a particular religion or tribe. It is a universal issue, we can all tackle it together,” she said
Wanda said the Foundation has taken similar campaigns to Christian’s organisations, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), among others.”
“The whole aim of this meeting is to see how best to protect our children from sex offenders, from paedophiles, from persons who derive pleasure in defiling children, and we have been able to meet with the NAPTIP, the Nigeria Police, we have met with Christians Association of Nigeria and community leaders.
“We have also carried out street campaigns, community campaigns on what people need to do when there are cases of child sexual abuse to prevent all of these things.”
She said that the Foundation is partnering with the International Centre for Investigating Reporting (ICIR) and Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) on the Child Sexual Abuse in Nigeria Project, even as she expressed hope that the fight would gain more momentum with the support of NSCIA.”
According to her, the rising incidents of child sexual abuse in the country is becoming alarming noting that many people are being sexually exploited in communities across the country.
“Sex should not be forced, consent should be given, and of course, children are the most vulnerable because, with just N10 sweet, a child can be lured and be defiled,” she said.
Adding that they have come to solicit for the support of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in their fight against girl child sexual abuses.
“We are tired. In a year, there are over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse and violence in Nigeria and when you check, you see that only two or three have been prosecuted,” she said.
Lemmy Ughegbe, Director of Make a Difference Initiative, speaking during the visit noted that rape used to be a virus in Nigeria but now has now become a pandemic capable of swallowing future generations.
He said that they are glad to use the NSCIA platform to rob minds and share their thoughts on how they can also help to support each other to raise their voices to find an end to this pandemic.
Stressing that rape pandemic is worse than the COVID-19. “In our view, child sexual abuse has become a pandemic which is more serious than COVID-19. If you look at the average of death, the percentage you find out that many people get infected with COVID-19, we have over 85 percent recovery rate.
Most people get infected and come out okay later, but with child sexual abuses the psyco socal consquences is so great that the child is damaged for life.” Ughegbe, said
Lemmy, cited recent cases of child sexual abuse in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory, said there is a need for the government to do more in the area of prosecution of offenders and rehabilitation of victims.