The Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, has assented to the Child Protection Bill several years after its proposal in the state House of Assembly.
The Assembly first introduced it as Child Rights Act in 2003, but later renamed it Katsina State Child Protection Bill 2020.
File photo of a girl forced into marriage
The bill, which was finally assented to by the governor on December 29, 2020, was passed by the House of Assembly in November 2020 to protect children from abuse.
A leading child rights organisation, Save the Children International Nigeria, alongside other civil societies had been pushing for the passage of the bill into law.
However, in a report by Premium Times, the legislation will not regulate the age of marriage for Muslim children.
This means, although, the Child Protection Bill defines a child as a person below the age of 18 and seeks to protect them from abuse, it will still not protect certain underage persons from being married off.
The Chairman of the House Committee on the Child Protection Bill, Musa Nuhu, was quoted as saying the passage of the bill would end the prevalence of child rape, child labour, “forced and underage marriage in the state”.
However, the first article of the law gives the Sharia law supremacy over the Child Protection Law.
It says the Sharia will take precedence if any matter in the new law concerning a Muslim child goes against the religious law.
It also argues that a child’s maturity goes beyond the idea of puberty.
The bill states, “There should be counselling by parents to evaluate the development of their children before marrying them off.”
SaharaReporters, New York