Senator Ayo Akinyelure
The member representing Ondo Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, wept before members of his constituency in Akure on Monday as he apologised to them that he voted in error to support the senate resolution backing marriage of underage girls.
Akinyelure was summoned by his constituents to explain his role in the controversial passage of a resolution to retain the provision of Section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that a married underage girl is deemed to be an adult.
Politicians, women groups and students had besieged the Adegbemile Hall, venue of the meeting, with placards to protest against what they described as the legalisation of sexual abuse of young girls, which their representative had supported.
But Akinyelure burst into tears as he laboured to convince the obviously enraged crowd at the tension-soaked session that he mistakenly pressed the wrong button during the electronic voting exercise thinking that he was voting against child marriage.
The Senator said he had aligned his thought with that of other senators, who supported the resolution that the provision should be expunged from the constitution.
He added that the resolution was paraphrased again in a way that confused him to mean that pressing the ‘No’ button would mean voting against the resolution that the resolution should be retained in the constitution.
He said, “I am very sorry for this costly mistake. I actually voted in error. I pressed the ‘No’ button during the electronic voting session, thinking that I was kicking against the early marriage. I can never support such barbaric and wicked bill.”
As a fallout of the tension, supporters of the embattled senator and the protesters clashed at the premises of the meeting, while a photojournalist with the Hope newspapers, Mr. Abayomi Adefolalu, who tried to take their shot was beaten while his camera was damaged.
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, has criticised Senate resolution on child marriage.
Reacting to the decision of Nigeria’s upper legislative chambers on the contentious issue on Monday, Secretary, FIDA, Edo State branch, Mrs. Maria Edeko, described the development as disturbing and called for the removal of Section 29, sub-section 4(b) from the (1999) Constitution.