The Katsina Emirate Council on Thursday, October 13, 2016 declared that the marriage between a 14-year-old abducted Christian girl, Habiba Isa, and the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumin Usman, was irreversible.
The council said there was no compulsion in the marriage and Isa’s conversion to Islam noting that it was voluntarily and willingly entered into by the girl.
The council made this disclosure when officials of the Katsina State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, who visited Usman in his palace over the issue, that there was no evidence that the 14-year-old girl was forced to act against her wish.
Isa is expected to clock 15 years on Saturday, October 15, 2016, and would have resumed school for the new academic term, but for her abduction.
She was abducted on August 16, 2016, by one Jamilu Lawal, an aide of the emir, who worked in the palace. She was converted to Islam and held incommunicado.
The family of Isiyaku Tanko of Warkaza community in the Kudun Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State on Wednesday alleged that Usman forcefully abducted their 14-year-old daughter and forced her into marrying him.
She passed her Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination and was expected to start Senior Secondary School this year, the Punch reported.
The incident was blown open when the father of the victim lodged a complaint with Stefanos Foundation, a humanitarian civil rights organisation, which took over the matter.
However, Isa was allowed to appear before CAN officials and others in the palace on Thursday, October 13, 2016 and was asked three questions by the Kaora Katsina, Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, on behalf of the emirate council.
She was asked whether she was forcefully converted to Islam – whether the emirate council or any other person forced her into the marriage with the emir and lastly if by the time she met her husband was already experiencing menstrual period. she answered no to all the questions except for the last question which she answered yes.
The Kaora Katsina added, “The three questions are in line with the dictates of the Islamic religion. Since Isa has voluntarily answered the three questions in our presence, there is no going back on her marriage.”
Abdulkadir explained that in as much as the emirate council would not want to be involved in the controversy surrounding the marriage, the palace of the emir was open to all Nigerians irrespective of religion and tribe.
A letter purportedly written by Isa’s father was read to the gathering, apologising to the emirate council for any embarrassment the issue might have caused it (the council).
The CAN Chairman for Katsina State, Very Rev. Nelson Ugochukwu, however, told the emirate council that Isa’s marriage did not have the consent of her parents, who he said, were crying for justice in Abuja.
The CAN leader said the association was not in support of the marriage and her conversion to Islam.
He said, “This girl (Isa) standing before us is 14 years. She is supposed to be in school and not given out in marriage.
“We are not pleased and we demand justice. Her parents are in Abuja, crying for justice. In my religion, you cannot give out any lady in marriage without the consent of her parents. This marriage does not have the consent of this little girl’s parent. The parents are not happy with what has happened.
“As the CAN chairman in Katsina, I am the father of all Christians in the state. Our people are not happy. The parents told me that the girl is 14 years. She is supposed to be in school. I want justice to be done in this matter. I want the emirate to look into the matter. To us, the girl is still a Christian.”
Recall that on August 12, 2015, Ese Rita Oruru then 13, and a JSS3 student of Central Epie Secondary School, Opolo, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, was abducted by Yunusa Dahiru from Bayelsa and taken to Kano, where her parents said their teenage daughter had been forced to convert to Islam, and forced into child marriage without their consent. The abductor was a long-standing customer of Ese’s mother, Rose, who is a food vendor. Punch