Tears Of The Voiceless | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Tears Of The Voiceless

Posted: Mar 5, 2016 at 7:13 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ayo Oyoze Baje

In saner climes, the perpetrators and accomplices in the now famous Ese saga; complete with the callous and cruel abduction, forceful marriage and conversion to Islam of an under-aged girl that spanned seven months, would be behind bars grating their teeth in utmost regret. It is one heinous act that has triggered global outrage. But crass impunity still rules here like a king.

As the dastardly drama, typical of a midnight horror-movie unfolded, Ese Oruru was barely 13 then when a pervert that goes by the name Yinusa, a commercial tricycle operator abducted her on August 12, 2015. He pulled Ese from her mother’s food store at the rural  Oyolo, in Yenogoa LGA of Bayelsa State and took her to Kano for marriage. Worrisome indeed, it was that Yinusa had the tacit support of the District head, the Kano Emirate and Sharia Councils, all who, according to police investigations frowned at the rightful efforts of Charles and Rose Oruru to have their dearly beloved daughter back! That all these ignoble incidents were enacted in the 21stCentury Nigeria reminds us that we still have a long walk to socio-economic freedom.

The pitiable plight of Eze reminds us, as well, of the sordid tragedy of the Chibok Girls, 219 of them still held in captivity over a year after their abduction and fruitless protests by concerned individuals and groups. One can only imagine and cringe at the horrifying tales of rape of these minors and being forced into a religious dogma they were not brought up into. It rankles and boggles the mind that such illegality still pervades our social landscape. Nigeria, as memory serves is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Human Rights of 1948. The pure evil act of this abduction runs against the grain of Section 361 of the Criminal Code Act and Cap 38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

In fact, the laws of Bayelsa State, where the insidious act took root are explicit in this regard. It spells it out that: “any person, who with intent to marry or carnally know a female of any age, or cause her to be married, or carnally known by any other person, takes her away or detains her against her will, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years”. Similarly, Section 29(4) of the Nigerian Constitution forbids abduction. And Section 21 of the Child Rights Act states unequivocally that: “No person under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting a valid marriage and accordingly any marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever.” Ese’s forced marriage is also contrary to the ethos of the African Child Rights Act, to which Nigeria is also a signatory.

It would be recalled that millions of Nigerians were shocked, when in 2010, Senator Ahmed Sani took a tender, 15 year-old Egyptian girl as his legally- married wife. That untoward incident has, however, suffered the usual Doppler’s effect. We do honestly hope that the Ese issue would not.

In all honesty, the ignoble roles played by the Kano State Police Command, the Department of State Service and the Kano Emirate Council leave much to be desired. It is untenable that a top police hierarchy would kowtow to some cultural aberrations that are clearly antithetical to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It throws up the nagging question: Could this odious crime have lasted as long had Ese, being the child of a renowned politician, governor or legislator? The answer is obvious. And that exposes the smelly underbelly of our lope-sided judicial system, one that is tilted in favour of the mighty, in our corruption -riddled society.

Efforts should therefore, be geared towards rehabilitating Ese. She has been traumatized. She must not be allowed to grow up with a feeling that our government is not there for her as a protective father-figure. No! Hers may have attracted global attention, but somewhere there, in some rural or even urban settings, are nameless and voiceless Ezes whose rights have been grossly abused. Some have been trafficked, or coerced into child slavery, prostitution, to trade in hard drugs or forced into terrorism. We must stand up for them.

To do so, justice must be seen to be done. Every religion propagates the sanctity of life and the protection of the rights of every citizen. All those involved in the despicable acts of Ese’s abduction must be fished out and brought to speedy justice. Only that would serve as deterrence to others and heal Ese’s brutalized soul.