Thursday, 25 July 2013
'WE WERE BLACKMAILED TO SUPPORT CHILD MARRIAGE' - Senate President
He made this disclosure when he received some women organisations and civil societies that visited the Senate leadership to press home the need for the lawmakers to revisit the voting exercise, with a view to deleting the section.
Mark pointed out that because a religious connotation was brought into the matter of child Marriage, which is a very sensitive issue, a lot of misunderstanding and blackmail have trailed the matter in recent times.
“We wanted to remove it but it failed. On that day, we were a total of 101. Eighty five voted and I think about six or so abstained. There was hardly any dissenting votes, but once it got mixed up with so many other issues, it didn’t get the required 73 votes anymore. So, first of all, I think the castigation outside is done out of misunderstanding.
“Let me also talk to my own brothers and sisters who are senators, who were probably blackmailed. That is the fact, because it is in the open; that I cannot also hide it and nobody can hide it.
“They were simply blackmailed, and on that day, if they didn’t do what they did, nobody knows the outcome or how the consequences will be today, because the people outside can say this man, you are Muslim and didn’t vote for something that is of Islamic interest. If we don’t hit the nail on the head, we may never get it right,” he said.
Mark, however, said the controversial issue might be revisited if there was enough enlightenment, adding that what was good for the country was for everybody and not for a particular religious body or sect.
The women organisations were led by the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina; former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwezeli; a former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih; the wife of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mrs Maryam Uwais and the chairperson of the Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN), Mrs Saadatu Mahdi.