The controversy generated over the Senate’s resolution on child marriage continued yesterday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as a group of children actors and actresses gave a 10-day ultimatum to the lawmakers to abolish the law and make public apologies to them.
The children are said to be producing a film entitled: “Yerima, Diary of a Child.”
They demanded an immediate abolition of the section of the Constitution backing the underage marriage and threatened to embark on an indefinite hunger strike if this is not carried out ASAP.
The group, which was a volunteer team of children from across the country, demanded an apology from the Senate for deliberating and considering the stamping of early child marriage law in the country, stressing that such had belittled the child rights.
In an interview with journalists, the 13 year-old leader of the group, Pascaline Ogbuli, said her group decided to stage the play as a way of lending their voices to the growing opposition to early child marriage in Nigeria.
Ogbuli said the planned indefinite hunger strike was aimed at attracting local, national and international attention to the plight of voiceless Nigerian children who have continually falling victims to the underage marriage in Nigeria.
She said: “We demand a public apology in all the national dailies within the next 10 days, otherwise we shall embark on an indefinite hunger strike to draw local, national and international attention to our plight as voiceless Nigerian children.
“And if we die telling our leaders that our education and our future count more than an early marriage, so be it. To all the leaders who support this barbaric law and to everyone that ought to speak out loud against it but are keeping quiet for fear or for whatever reason, if we die, our blood shall be demanded of you and your generations”.
Expressing the fear of growing up in a country where children would not be free to walk the streets for fear of being stolen by lustful adults for early marriage, Ogbuli stressed that the Senate had disappointed the children’s generation who looked up to the lawmakers as role model.
She said: “We do not wish to grow up in a country where our fathers, mothers and our leaders do not respect our rights and the fact that we are children, and should be protected and given education and not led as bride to the marriage slaughter-house.
“We are grossly ashamed that the Nigerian Senate, that we, as children aspire to and look forward to with pride and great respect, could even consider a law saying our childhood and innocence could be taken away and our education and future destroyed in exchange for a bride price, and that we could be sold as slaves to early marriage.”