From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II said yesterday that it is time to peg marriage age in Nigeria.
Sanusi also called on his subjects to exercise caution on the number of wives they take in light of present economic realities and stressed that there is no need to marry more wives when the finance for their upkeep is not available.
The emir said this at a two-day workshop on: “Strengthening the capacity of religious leaders on maternal and child healthcare” organised by Northern Muslim Religious Leaders Forum on primary healthcare.
The monarch said though Islam allows for four wives for Muslim men, it does not impose it on every Muslim.
He advised those who cannot afford to care of four women to settle for that which their resources can manage.
The monarch also rejected the culture of under aged marriage and linked it to the prevalence of maternal and infant mortality in Northern Nigeria.
Sanusi wondered why a man should marry a 12 or nine-year old girl and added that though the issue of early marriage is not abhorred by Islam, it is advisable to exercise restrain given the health implications associated to it.
He admonished men against under aged marriage and recommended that such marriages should be put on hold until the girl comes of age.
He held that it was the duty of Muslim parents to know who to marry their daughters to and called on them to stop marrying off their daughters until they come of age.
The monarch stressed the need for the legislature to prescribe the right marriage age for girls while asking Muslim scholars to rise to the occasion and come up with what should be the minimum age for marriage for girls.
“In Morocco, for example, they are the followers of Maliki School, they have set 18 years as the minimum age for marriage, Egypt has set 16 years and in Malaysia, it is 19 years.”
The monarch also expressed disapproval for the rampant cases of divorce of women after years of marriage and added that many of these divorces are based on flimsy and indefensible excuses.
He was particularly worried that after such divorce, many of the affected men proceed to replace their wives of several years with a new wife without regard for the upkeep of the divorced woman and their children.
He said that where divorce becomes inevitable, the man should be made to provide for the upkeep of his divorced wife and his children and where necessary, he should be made to vacate the family house for his divorced wife and children.