Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has described the abduction of 13-year-old Ese Oruru from Bayelsa by a Kano Boy, Yunusa as pure criminal and violation of the country’s constitution.
He said this at news conference jointly addressed with Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, adding, “What Yunusa did is purely criminal – kidnapping, forced marriage, rape, sexual assault on a girl who was 13 last year. Now she has been put in a family way. You can imagine the danger to the health of that girl.”
Falana quoted Section 38 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, saying that no child of school age should be forced to convert to another religion other than his parents’.
The section says: “No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian.”
According to the lawyer, Ese was attending a school in Bayelsa State when Yunusa allegedly abducted her to Kano State and forcefully converted her to Islam without her parents’ approval.
“That is a violation of Section 38 of the Constitution,” Falana said.
He noted, “There is a United Nations convention for the rights of the child. Nigeria as a UN member ratified the convention and domesticated the law in 2003. Since 2003, we have had the Child’s Right Act. Under Section 15 of the Act, every child in Nigeria shall be educated at the expense of the state from primary to junior secondary school.
“For the avoidance of doubt, in 2004, we also enacted the Compulsory Universal Basic Education Act that has also imposed a duty on the state to ensure that every child is educated from primary to junior secondary school.
“In fact, under that law, it is a criminal offence not to allow your child to be educated. What Yunusa has done by taking that girl from her school in Yenegoa is a violation of that law.
“About 24 states have adopted the Child’s Right Act, and under the law, which is applicable in Bayelsa State, what Yunusa did is purely criminal – kidnapping, forced marriage, rape, sexual assault on a girl who was 13 last year. Now she has been put in a family way. You can imagine the danger to the health of that girl.