The Senator representing Ondo State Central at the National Assembly, Senator Ayo Akinyelure today made a U-turn and begged the people of the state to forgive him for his decision to support the controversial underage marriage proposal.
The Senator, who was weeping like a two year-old baby and also prostrating at a stakeholder meeting held at Adegbemile Cultural Cantre in Akure, where he was summoned by his constituents said he voted in error.
The Senator, popularly known as Allover, urged the people to count it as part of human errors which could have been committed by anyone.
It could be recalled that the Ondo State Senator was listed in DailyPost earlier report as one of the Senators who voted for underage marriage.
This popular report also showed that the Senator was the only lawmaker from South West who supported the proposed law.
This particular stand of the lawmaker had arouse anger amongst his people who believe that he had betrayed them.
In order to dissociate themselves from his action, the people had earlier converged at the same venue on Saturday to show their grievances over the Senator’s action by signing a protest register.
But, Akinyelure while defending himself on the issue claimed that he mistakenly press “NO” instead of “YES” when the lawmakers embarked on voting, since the voting style was electronic.
According to him, “nobody is above human errors. What happened has made me to become wiser, because nobody is perfect, except God. I will like to make the following clarifications on the subject matter, to correct the wrong allegations of voting in favour of Underage marriage as widely reported in the national dailies.
“Before this issue occurred, what the Senate considered for determination under the review of Nigerian constitution was renunciation of citizenship under the constitution as contained under section 29 (4b) which provides that all married women shall be of age” it is worthy of note that full age has been defined under section 29 (4a) to mean “the age of 18 years and above”.
The question before the Senate for determination therefore, was whether the clause which provides that “a married woman is deemed to be of full age to renounce her citizenship of Federal Republic of Nigeria should be retained or be deleted? Section 29 (1) of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that “Any Citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.
“The question before the Senate for which I voted in favour was that whether a married woman is deemed to be of full age to renounce her Nigerian Citizenship and not whether a woman can marry before attaining the age of 18 years. This is quite different from voting in favour of underage marriage as widely reported in the media to blackmail Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that believe in the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria as a Nation and to avoid possible religious crises and security challenges that may likely result from deleting this clause in question from the constitution, hence, I voted for the clause to remain.
“This implies that renunciation of Nigeria Citizenship is quite different from age of marriage of Nigeria Citizens under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I submit this clarifications to the whole Nigeria and the world at large that, I, my people in Ondo Central and the Government of Ondo State do not support underage marriage in all ramifications.
“Therefore, my voting “No” was in clear error of misinterpretation and I had no opportunity to correct what is deemed to be my error now, because I would have been able to correct my error before the voting was concluded by the senate. We make use of electronic vote and you can’t make correction once you make an error.
“However, the position of the Senate would have remained the same if I had voted YES to section 29 (4b) to be removed from the constitution, because for the clause to be passed by the Senate, it requires 73 votes, representing two/third majority votes. Therefore, my voting YES would have brought the result to 61 YES and 34 NO,which wouldn’t not have met the requirements for passage. I therefore, use this medium to apologize to my constituency members and the good people of Ondo state, for voting in error as a result of my wrong interpretation without any ample opportunity to make correction before voting was concluded”
Despite all these explanations given by the Senator, the people who were majorly women and members of the ruling Labour Party ,LP, were not satisfied, and remained adamant.
Some of them who spoke at the meeting said, the Senator had taken a decision which had put the people of the state to shame.
The Idanre Local government women leader, Mrs. Abike Tiamiyu who is from the same local government , said what the Senator had done does not call for total condemnation. However, she was booed by the people for supporting the Senator.
Akinyelure was particularly asked by Ifedore local government LP women leader, Mrs. Iyabo Ojo if the Senator took some bribe before supporting underage marriage.
The State Coordinator of the National Council for Women Society, Mrs. Kikelomo Adeniyi said any of the senators who believes he or she is a good parent will never support early marriage.
He noted that, if women were allowed to marry at any age, when would they be able to contribute their quotas towards national development?.
Legalizing underage marriage is more or less preventing women from occupying better and reasonable positions in the country. We have several females in the National Assembly. If their parents had supported early marriage, would they have been able to get to those positions?” She asked
Meanwhile, before the arrival of the Senator and his entourage, including some government officials, the House of Assembly Members and Leaders of LP, alongside hundreds of residents of his senatorial district had besieged the venue of the event, protesting over the Lawmaker’s action.
Following this action, some of his loyalists were forced to disperse the protesters with stones.
Some of the placards displayed by the aggrieved protesters had the inscriptions, “Ayo Akinyelure sold our daughters pride for money” “Allover failed to protect Yoruba Culture” “Child murder is not Yoruba Culture, Akinyelure be warned” “Yoruba Culture not for sale” among others.
It took the intervention of the Police before order was restored at the venue.
The Senator who denied that he did not send anyone to disperse the protesters, however appealed for forgiveness.