Alhaji Yakubu Jikan Daudu is very well known within the Lapai community in Niger State.
But for his penchant for seeking seemingly underage girls’ hands in marriage, he would have been hailed as the ‘ladies’ man’.
Instead, he is notoriously known as Alhaji Chanji – a name widely believed to have been coined due to the frequency with which he switches young women as wives.
Yakubu is said to have a reputation of divorcing his wives after they birth their first child. He reportedly never divorced his first wife, who was saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the young wives’ children, until her death few years ago.
He gained media attention on Tuesday after photos of his marriage to a young girl were posted to social media. The ceremony was without much fanfare, except for the presence of an APC lawmaker in the community.
The bride’s look in the photos was anything but delightful. Reports say she is just 15. But Yakubu would have her anyway.
“I swear he’ll divorce her after giving birth!” someone who claims to know the septuagenarian personally, Abbas Dangi, said.
Another young lady, Lailah Ibraheem, said Yakubu had sworn he would marry her and two of her neighbours.
“I remember meeting this man while I was in 100 level. I was with two of my neighbours in school, he asked for our numbers & said ‘wallahi sai ‘in aure ku duka ban san nayi komai ba’,” she said, adding that she “was scared cause [she’d] heard of his story.”
Many commentators buttressed Dangi’s and Lailah’s claims.
As is customary with obscene occurrences in this divide of the world, many public commentators have expressed belief that Yakubu’s continued accumulation of young wives was “not ordinary”.
“He is notorious for marrying women and divorcing them after childbirth, question is why do they keep giving him their hands in marriage, there is more to it than meet the eye,” one person, Shamsuddeen, said.
But Yakubu will seemingly continue to get away with it.
Child marriage is believed to be one of the greatest hindrance of social development in Northern Nigeria. Recent statistics say 48 per cent of Hausa-Fulani girls are married by age 15.
The Child Rights Act in the Nigerian constitution forbids such forceful union, with the punishment of up to five-year jail term for offenders – including parents/guardians who enable the act.
Sadly, the law does not hold sway in at least 11 states – mostly in the North – as they are yet to incorporate the bill which was passed in 2003 into their laws for enforcement. This is largely in part to the adoption of the conflicting Sharia Law in those states.
The Sharia Law, which is heavily influenced by the Islamic religion, does not signify a minimum age for marriage. It instead bases a child’s maturity on signs of puberty such as menstruation, the growth of breasts and pubic hair.
The Child Rights Act also creates a conflict between human rights and religion, one of many reasons why Northern States may have refused to adopt it.
Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution states that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
Though there is no confirmed figure of Yakubu’s children count, there should be concerns that men like him pose a major threat to the looming population scare in Nigeria.
This post first appeared on www.neusroom.com