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Open letter to Alhaji Sani Yerima
http://www.nigeriansinamerica.com/articles/4233/1/Open-letter-to-Alhaji-Sani-Yerima/Page1.html
Olusegun Fakoya
Dr Olusegun Fakoya is a physician, teacher, writer and socio-political commentator residing in the UK. 
By Olusegun Fakoya
Published on 06/7/2010
 
It is perhaps right to state that the last has not been heard about your unceremonious marriage to a minor and the consequent barrage of public criticism it generated. June 15, 2010 is your next date with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic Persons...

Allah misleads whomsoever he chooses to mislead”- The Qur’an

Dear Alhaji Sani Yerima,

It is perhaps right to state that the last has not been heard about your unceremonious marriage to a minor and the consequent barrage of public criticism it generated. June 15, 2010 is your next date with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic Persons (NANTIP) following a bail you were granted on self recognition.  Needless to say that in these trying times in the country, when most eyes are focussed on the necessity for essential reforms in our body polity, your action remains an unwarranted distraction which the nation can ill afford. However, your unrepentant and rather militant posture on this issue continues to fan the embers of what is now amounting to warfare and ably dividing the fragile unity of the country along religious lines.

The NANTIP Declaration

Of particular importance is your non-denial of a statement credited to you whilst outside the premises of the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP), Abuja on the 18th of May following your invitation for questioning by that body. In the infamous NANTIP Declaration, you were quoted as saying: “I am not bound by the laws of Nigeria but by Sharia laws which I have not breached”. In fact, it was further reported that you shamelessly tendered a marriage certificate issued by a Sharia court to NAPTIP. That arrogant statement raises a lot of concerns, considering that you are a Senator of the Federal Republic.

Your stance has been based on the infallibility of your religion and your firm belief in same, especially your adherence to the Qur’an and the Hadith (traditions of Muhammad and his followers). Your statement negated the supremacy of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of which you are a Senator. Inadvertently, you raised a battle of supremacy between Nigeria’s constitution and the Qur’an. This need not be as the two had co-existed for ages in the same country with minimal rancour, not even when in your uncontrolled exuberance, you decided to resort to the Sharia penal code in your day as the governor of Zamfara state.

Whilst your only defence has been the freedom to exercise irresponsible behaviour as guaranteed by your faith, especially the antecedents set by your holy prophet Muhammad, the Supreme Council for Sharia (not unexpectedly) has gone a step further. This ludicrous body turned to a Federal High Court to protect what it deemed as the intrusion of your privacy by the numerous non-governmental organisations and livid citizens outraged by your extremely shameful behaviour. This Supreme Council for Sharia wanted the court to exempt Muslims from the articles of the Child protection laws in the country as it violates their freedom to be paedophiles and what have you.

The position of the various irate individuals and bodies over your sordid act includes, amongst others:

1.    That you are a serial paedophile who is in the habit of substituting teenagers as wives in order to comply with the injunction of your religion. It was reported that just before you married your Egyptian bride, you divorced another teenager (Hauwa’u) whom you married at the age of 15 years and who bore you a child. That girl is now said to be 17 years of age and her life has been brutally disrupted by your inordinate lust.

2.    That you exploit and abuse those whom you employed to work for you as a pattern of marrying the teenage daughters of your drivers have emerged. The employment you offer has thus proved to be a dangerous vocation as the teenage daughters of your drivers are the prey of your licentious eyes.

3.    That indiscipline and indiscretion against the laws of the state should not be condoned no matter how highly placed the offender might be. This brings us again to your infamous NANTIP Declaration. The issue then centres on your continued existence in the Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria in the light of your disregard for our laws. To all and sundry, the Senate, as far as you are concerned, remains a reflection of your status in the power equation and a ready assured source of free income and not a serious business. Sad as it may seem, the latter view represents the position of most of those currently in the senate today hence the lukewarm reaction on their part to your intransigency.

4.    It is generally agreed that you violated sections of the Child Right Act which forbids anyone from marrying a child (whether boy or girl) under 18 years and also prohibits betrothal of any child under 18 years. This offence carries a penalty of N500,000 or five years imprisonment or both.

5.    Your “use and discard” system which has so far ensured that you divorce one wife to marry another infringes on the fundamental human rights of your child wives. It has been stated that Section 33 of our constitution (which unfortunately you hold nothing but disdain for) guarantees the right to life and decent existence of these kids you have married. However, your detestable taste in sleeping with young minors expose their immature organs to stress they could ill afford to bear. I know that you care less about scientific evidences pointing to the catastrophic effects of such early liaisons leading to an extremely high rate of  vesico-vaginal fistula and other genitor-urinary and reproductive abnormalities especially in your part of Nigeria (the Northern region).

6.    It is the notion of the various human rights organisations that Western countries have a duty of obligation to the human race to ensure that paedophiles of your type are not accorded free passage in civilised countries. Hence the passionate plea to these countries to refuse to grant travel visa to you. Same applies to the plea to Interpol to ensure that what Nigeria has so far failed to do is accomplished outside our shores – that is, arrest you for prosecution and ensure that you sign the sex offenders register for life.

Unwittingly, Nigerians have been privileged, once again, to have a glimpse of the character of those who purport to lead them. The issues raised by your prolific habit of marrying minors are very fundamental and reflect seriously on the quality of leadership in our dear country. The image that has been effectively created by your paedophilic habit is that of a small-minded village Jihadist who was thrust by a very deficient political arrangement to leadership positions. Your act indeed raises a lot of questions on the political permutation and alignment in Nigeria.  Needless to say, that NANTIP Declaration was an insult to the collective integrity of Nigerians. Senator Yerima, you represent the decay inherent in our polity, a decay characterised by political ineptitude, immorality, political ambivalence and crass irresponsibility.

Your era as the governor of poor Zamfara state was characterised mostly by your activism as regards the introduction and implementation of the Sharia penal code and little by meaningful economic, educational or social development. You were more concerned with the further subjugation of your impoverished and ignorant people (especially the women folk)and the amputation of limbs as encouraged by what could be rightly viewed as an outdated set of laws that was implemented in its crudest form. In retrospect, your introduction of the Sharia set of laws had no altruistic motive; rather it was an excuse to justify your amorous profligacy, one that is outside the realms of modern convention. You made the people of Zamfara scapegoats for your personal immoderation. This is rather sad and extremely wicked.

Those whom the gods want to kill, they first make mad

 A reflection of the impact of your indiscipline on the country is that not too long ago, a deranged association purporting to represent an Islamic group in Northern Nigeria came out smoking from all ends. This group wanted all Muslims to marry girls of any age as that was in line with what the Holy Prophet Muhammad did. Naturally, this obnoxious group gave you a clean bill and exonerated you. You must have felt very happy with this much needed morale booster; if at all the group was not sponsored. Whilst it has been historically proven that Prophet Muhammad indeed married Aishat at the age of 6 years, it is imperative to look at this issue in the light of the practices and norms of those times. Thus, the issue of religious practices appear intertwined with culture, norm and time. However, a culture that refuses to move with time is doomed whilst also, a religion that chose to ignore the momentum of time appears non-beneficial. It is perhaps right to assume that what Muhammad did was acceptable at the time he did it, as no documentation exists of protests against his act. Or perhaps, the people were so subjugated that they lack the means to protest.

Again, Islam as a religion, was of Middle Eastern origin, specifically of Arabic extraction. The religion is so interwoven into the culture and way of life of the Arabs that it is so difficult to be a good Muslim without imbibing elements of Arabic culture. Thus, it becomes a mirage to note that what an Arabic country considered an abomination was allowed to happen in Nigeria even with fanfare. If Egypt could have disallowed child abuse on the pretext of Islamic marriage, then what business is it of Nigeria to have condoned such a criminal act? We cannot be more Arabic than the Arabs.

 It also sounds superfluous in this present age and time for Islamic miscreants like yourself to use the example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to excuse your antisocial behaviour. Religion is based on faith, but you seriously need to ask yourself if faith is based in the conscience or in the mind.  If you cling so much to what may perhaps not be the most desirable qualities of the Prophet (pardon me if you feel offended), could you then search your conscience and seek to know if it is possible to find truth in God without the habit of the messenger. Alhaji Yerima, you are by now an adult who should be able to discern what is wrong from what is right.

Suras of the Qur’an states that “Allah prospers whoever he wants without measure”. The same Qur’an poses a riddle by clearly stating that Allah misleads (leads astray) whomsoever he chooses to mislead. This is a riddle which has an obvious answer in your case. With your psychotic resort to the deed of Muhammad in defending your criminal and base behaviour, there is no doubt that you have been effectively misled by Allah. Those who are headstrong in their defence of your unacceptable behaviour are equally misled by Allah. This reminds me of the age-old saying in my part of the country – those whom the gods want to kill, they first make mad. Dear Alhaji, you may probably be undergoing a phase of insanity without insight.

The key point is simply that your behaviour is simply not acceptable in this age and time. I mean, this is the 21st century and I remained utterly convinced that if Muhammad were to be alive, he would have chastised you in the strongest terms. In any case, no record exist to state that Prophet Muhammad was in the habit of using his drivers as a leeway to provide underage girls to satisfy an unbridled and rather perverted sexual desires. Prophet Muhammad was not recorded to have divorced one underage girl to marry another. Alhaji Sani Yerima, it is high time you lived up to the reality of your sick acts and seek professional help which you honestly need. Using religion as a cover-up would not just hold.

While the efforts of NAPTIP remain commendable, no Nigerian is under the illusion that justice can really be obtained within the present Nigerian climate. Unless, of course, if something drastic had happened to the administration of justice under Goodluck Jonathan’s dispensation. However, beyond the efforts of NANTIP and other concerned organisations and individuals, the major issue is the moral proprietary of this sort of behaviour on the part of a political leader. Of concern again is the type of leadership Nigerians are paying heavily for with your NANTIP declaration and the camaraderie of your Senator colleagues. While concerted efforts are being made to stem the growth of ignorance in Nigeria especially as it relates to child marriages and child abuse, a political figure like you goes all militant in the stupid defence of an abominable act. Nigeria is definitely being short-changed with your type in positions of authority.

While we continue to watch with interest, the unfolding scenario in this case, you might perhaps learn a lesson from it all. The Nigeria of today is far different from those of yester-years. We are more enlightened and massively desire to see things turn around for the better in our fatherland. Again, as regards your serial paedophilic habit, there is obviously no conclusion than the obvious fact that the Almighty Allah has misled you – if at all he has any hand in your undisciplined behaviour!

Dear Alhaji, I shall keep in touch again, if need be.

Thank you.

Olusegun Fakoya.