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Senate committee rejects voting rights for married underage girls

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Kabiru Gaya, chairman of the senate committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the suggestion that married underage girls should have the right to vote has been rejected.

The senator spoke on the issue while fielding comments at the NAN Forum in Abuja on Tuesday.

The matter had generated widespread criticism when it was brought up in the senate in December 2020.

According to Gaya, a memorandum on the matter was “submitted by a group of people” during a public hearing but it was dropped by the senate committee.

He said: “One of the people who came to the public hearing submitted the memorandum, and argued that the word underage was not his, but that any woman or man that is married should be considered as an adult.

“That was his reason. Our own resolve is that if a woman is at the age of 16 and she gets married, she should not be allowed to vote.

“Generally there was a lot of noise about. It was in a memorandum submitted by a group of people and they have their rights as Nigerians.

But when we came to the committee, we discussed a lot on that and at the end of the day, we felt we could not go along with that suggestion and it was dropped.”

Gaya said there was another suggestion not to hold elections on Saturdays as some faithful observe the day as their holy day.

He added that the same argument would be made if elections were fixed for Fridays or Sundays.

“If we move elections to Fridays some people will say it is their worship day; if we move it to Sundays, some other people will say it is also their worship day. So, that suggestion was also thrown out,’’ Gaya said.

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