In a Youtube video for his “What’s Up Africa?” series, Nigerian-British vlogger, Ikenna Azuike, hails the arrival of Yeriman, a muscle-bound hero who protects the rights of Nigeria’s “over-50 males who think it’s OK to marry a 13-year-old girl according to the Huffington Post.”
The video is, of course, a satire.
The Youtube video is a response to the vote concerning a constitutional clause defining the age of majority at which Nigerians can renounce their citizenship. It specified that females should be considered fully of age regardless of their actual age if they are married. Senators introduced an amendment to remove this language and set the age of majority as 18 across the board. The amendment initially passed, but was reconsidered and voted down after Senator Ahmed Yerima, the inspiration for Yeriman, argued that it conflicted with Islamic law.
Though child marriage is still banned under Nigerian law, activists fear the vote sets a terrible precedent for discussions about the legal age for girls to marry. According to UNICEF, 39% of Nigerian girls currently marry before the age of 18.
Child marriage is a personal as well as a religious issue for Senator Yerima, who drew heavy criticism after marrying a 13-year-old Egyptian girl in 2010 at the age of 49. In order to keep within a religiously mandated limit of 4 wives, reports the AP, Yerima divorced a 17-year-old girl he had married when she was 15.
Yerima was accused of violating the ban on child marriage at the time, but he defended his decision as sanctified by Islam. “The Prophet Mohammed married at the age of nine, therefore any Muslim who marries a girl of nine years and above, is following the teachings of the Prophet,” Yerima told Al Jazeera.