Saturday, 20 July 2013

READ THE SIGNED PETITION DIFFERENT FROM THE PROPAGANDA OF "CHILD MARRIAGE"


Petition from Nigerians concerned about the implications of not removing Section 29(4)(b) from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
 
July 20 2013
Senator David Mark
Senate President
National Assembly Complex
 
Senator Helen Esuene
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Women
National Assembly Complex
 
 
Sen. Umaru Dahiru
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights
National Assembly Complex
 
Hon. Aminu Tambuwal
Speaker, House of Representatives
National Assembly Complex
 
It is with great concern that the undersigned individuals and organizations write on the Senate’s refusal to delete Section 29(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution. Renouncing the citizenship of Nigeria is not something we should take lightly and having a provision which trivializes the citizenship of females has troubling ramifications for the human rights of women for generations to come.
Regrettably, this issue about citizenship has been framed to distract from the essence of Section 29 which is to prescribe the procedure for Nigerians who wish to renounce their citizenship. S 29(4)(a) defines the character of a Nigerian who is capable of denouncing citizenship and clearly states that such person must be of full age - 18 years and above, which is in line with the Child Rights Act 2003 and the globally accepted understanding of the age at which humans attain adulthood. We thus join Gender and Constitutional Reform Network and other Nigerians in arguing that S 29(4)(b) not only contradicts, S 29 (4)(a) and can cause misrepresentation in law and practice but it is discriminatory because citizenship is gender neutral and Nigeria should not have a provision on citizenship that applies only to females.
The current deliberations on constitutional review provide us with the perfect opportunity to strengthen our social contract, so that with every law that is passed, we as Nigerians are making a statement on the kind of country that we wish to be. The Senate and the National Assembly will be continuing an injustice against Nigerian women and girls by keeping S 29(4)(b) which allows for loopholes within which Nigeria can continue to discriminate against half the population.
We, the undersigned, urge our lawmakers and representatives in the National Assembly to address the following:
 
1.                   The Senate leadership must address the rules of procedure which resulted in a recount of the votes after 75 Senators had already voted in favour of correcting the contradiction between Sec 29(4)(a) and Section 29(4)(b) and ending the discriminatory provision which attempts to classify the citizenship of some Nigerians as different from the citizenship of other Nigerians. 
 
2.                   The Senate vote on the deletion of Section 29(4)(b) must be revisited taking into consideration the ill-considered frame used to request for another vote. The issue hinges on the seriousness with which Nigerians take their citizenship rights and the acknowledgement that if persons are not old enough to legally vote and drive then they are not old enough to renounce their citizenship.
 
3.                   The National Assembly must expunge Section 29(4)(b) from the Constitution because:
a.       it is in direct conflict not only with Section 29(4)(a) but also with general principles of non-discrimination within the Constitution and
b.      it implies the legitimatization of thrusting on minors the obligations of adulthood.
 
4.            The concerns of many Nigerians that there is need for a referendum on the proposed amendments to the Constitution to ensure that there is transparency and clarity in the process. Nigerians need the assurance that the amendments are what they requested and advocated for that the amended Constitution will reflect the aspirations of majority of Nigerians for a more accountable and responsive government.