Ese Oruru was 13 1/2 years when she took a love trip in 2015 with one Yunusa, a Kano citizen living at Opolo, Yenegoa. And she has since been playing the little bride for the last six months in Kano until IGP Solomon Arase secured her release February 29.
According to the Kindling Hope Across Nations Initiative, an NGO Ese’s parents initially reported the alleged abduction of their daughter to, the teenager was first converted to Islam, after which Yunusa got her hand in a nikhai.
Attempts were said to have been made to retrieve the teenage bride. But none was successful. Suspicious, Yunusa reportedly took his wife, and fled into the palace of Kano’s Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi where they have been living till now.
According to reports, Ese’s parents, Mr and Mrs Oruru, who hail from Delta, have visited the palace, and have been told by the palace officials their daughter is now a Muslim, and 18-year-old—mature enough to make her decision.
The Orurus, however, got a boost for their effort when the Punch teamed up with KHANI to reinvigorate the retrieval.
Starting with a Twitter campaign hastagged #FreeEse, the newspaper has kindled a web 2.0 firestorm that gets many Nigerians angry, especially for the perceived delay in police investigation of the matter.
“Your statement that Ese’s release is “dependent” on persons is sad,” Bruce said in a letter wriiten after he said he was briefed of Arase’s indecision. “Her release is GUARANTEED by the CONSTITUTION. Ensure you free Ese.
“If you refuse to enforce the Nigerian CONSTITUTION this matter will be escalated to The United Nations Commission on Human Rights,” he added.
Women Affairs Minister Aisha Jummai Alhassan has also waded in. “The Child Rights Act says no person under 18 is capable of contracting a valid marriage, and a marriage so contracted is null and void.”
“No culture, religion or personal conviction supersedes the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ese Oruru must return home,” she vowed on her Twitter handle@JummaiAlhassan.
On police involvement, Arase had told the Punch he had initiated moves with the Kano Emirate. “The police command in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, actually followed up the matter right from Kano State,” Arase told The PUNCH.
“The Emir decided that he was going to mediate. But, because of his trip to Mecca with the President; that was what caused the delay. But now that he is back, we are going to sort it out as quickly as possible.”
Although Arase has taken custody of the girl, it’s not yet clear whether the issue will be prosecuted or resolved politically.
Marrying a minor, under the Child Rights Act, is a crime punishable by a N500,000 fine or a 5-year prison term or both for anyone.