10 Million Additional Girls At Risk of Child Marriage Due To COVID-19- UNICEF
With 25 million child marriages averted in the last decade, UNICEF issues warning on International Women’s Day that these gains are now under serious threat
Ten million additional child marriages may occur before the end of the decade, threatening years of progress in reducing the practice, according to a new analysis released by UNICEF today.
An analysis released by the UN agency titled: “COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage” was released on International Women’s Day – warns that school closures, economic stress, service disruptions, pregnancy, and parental deaths due to the pandemic are putting the most vulnerable girls at increased risk of child marriage.
The statement reads “even before the COVID-19 outbreak, 100 million girls were at risk of child marriage in the next decade, despite significant reductions in several countries in recent years. In the last ten years, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had decreased by 15 percent, from nearly 1 in 4 to 1 in 5, the equivalent of some 25 million marriages averted, again that is now under threat.
“Girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences. They are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to remain in school. Child marriage increases the risk of early and unplanned pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of maternal complications and mortality. The practice can also isolate girls from family and friends and exclude them from participating in their communities, taking a heavy toll on their mental health and well-being.
“COVID-19 is profoundly affecting the lives of girls. Pandemic-related travel restrictions and physical distancing make it difficult for girls to access the health care, social services and community support that protect them from child marriage, unwanted pregnancy and gender-based violence. As schools remain closed, girls are more likely to drop out of education and not return. Job losses and increased economic insecurity may also force families to marry their daughters to ease financial burdens.
“Worldwide, an estimated 650 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, with about half of those occurring in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria. To off-set the impacts of COVID-19 and end the practice by 2030 – the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals – progress must be significantly accelerated”.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director said “COVID-19 has made an already difficult situation for millions of girls even worse. Shuttered schools, isolation from friends and support networks, and rising poverty have added fuel to a fire the world was already struggling to put out. But we can and we must extinguish child marriage.
“International Women’s Day is a key moment to remind ourselves of what these girls have to lose if we do not act urgently – their education, their health, and their futures.
“One year into the pandemic, immediate action is needed to mitigate the toll on girls and their families.
“By reopening schools, implementing effective laws and policies, ensuring access to health and social services – including sexual and reproductive health services – and providing comprehensive social protection measures for families, we can significantly reduce a girl’s risk of having her childhood stolen through child marriage”.
Court of Appeal Upholds Adeleke’s Victory in Osun State Governorship Election
In a landmark judgement, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the rightful governor of Osun State.
The ruling, which comes as a surprise to many, overturned the decision of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which had earlier nullified Adeleke’s election victory.
Following the governorship polls in the state, an Election Petition Tribunal had sacked Adeleke from office, citing his failure to secure the majority of lawful votes during the July 16 governorship polls. However, in a unanimous agreement by a three-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, the Court of Appeal quashed the tribunal’s judgment and gave its verdict to uphold Adeleke’s victory.
The Appeal Court Panel revoked the tribunal’s order which directed that a Certificate of Return be withdrawn from Adeleke and issued to his predecessor and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gboyega Oyetola. The panel held that the Osun State Tribunal was wrong to have said that there was overvoting, a claim that only relied on the evidence by Oyetola and the APC, and as such, doesn’t prove their case in any way.
The judge faulted Oyetola and APC, that they only relied on the data from the back end server and failed to look at the voters register which forms the foundation of the whole electoral process and as such, cannot strengthen their allegations of overvoting. The court also resolved in favour of Adeleke on the issue of jurisdiction, stating that section 285(8) of the constitution as amended, the court has every right to entertain the appeal.
The ruling is a significant victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Adeleke, who had been locked in a legal battle with the APC over the governorship position since the election. Many Nigerians have applauded the Court of Appeal’s decision as a step towards consolidating the country’s democracy and upholding the rule of law.
The decision has also set a precedent for future electoral disputes in the country, as it highlights the importance of credible evidence in proving electoral malpractice claims. This ruling has shown that allegations of overvoting cannot be sustained without concrete evidence from the voters register, and political parties must be thorough in their investigations and presentation of evidence in such cases.
NIMC: Presidential Council Faults N1000 NIN Fee, Demands Review
The recently announced N1000 National Identification Number (NIN) verification fee for the application, issuance and renewal of international passports by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has been criticised.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC faulted the mandated charge and called for a review.
Investors King had earlier reported that NIMC declared that Nigerians living in the country will pay N1000, while Nigerians residing in other African countries will pay $3 or its equivalent in other currencies and those in other continents across the world will pay $10 or its equivalent in other countries as NIN verification fee for application, issuance and renewal of their international passports.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business/PEBEC Secretary, Jumoke Oduwole, in a statement, emphasised the need for a review to make citizens enjoy quicker and less expensive government services.
Oduwole, who commended the collaboration between NIMC and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), said such a partnership will enhance passport services.
She noted that stakeholders are not impressed with the extra charge to be paid for the NIN verification before they can process their passports.
According to her, the outline of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2022 signed into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari on February 8, 2023 states that where an applicant requires the service of a ministry, department or agency, the MDA involved is mandated to conduct the necessary verification or certification from relevant MDAs, in respect of the applicant.
Investors King understands that PUBEC was set up in 2016 by President Buhari with the aim of curbing hectic bottlenecks and bureaucratic limitations accompanied with owning and managing business enterprises in Nigeria.
The chairman of the council is the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. PUBEC has since its existence periodically issued EO1 Compliance Reports containing monthly reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies submitted to the council.
INEC Considers Postponement of Governorship and State Assembly Elections Amidst Legal Battles
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is currently considering the possibility of postponing the upcoming governorship and state assembly elections, following the legal battles that have arisen from the recent presidential and national assembly polls.
INEC is expected to make a decision on the issue during a meeting of its national commissioners, scheduled for Wednesday night.
Investors King understands that the legal battles revolve around the extraction of data embedded in the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the inspection of other election materials.
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, have filed similar applications seeking to obtain the certified true copy (CTC) of all the data in the BVAS.
INEC has opposed the applications, arguing that granting them would affect its preparations for the forthcoming elections.
Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to INEC, has asked the court to vary the orders granting permission to Obi and Atiku to inspect all the sensitive materials used in the conduct of the presidential election.
However, the court has refused to grant INEC’s request, stating that the commission failed to specify which of the orders it wished to vary.
The court has clarified that it granted Obi and LP permission to do electronic scanning and/or make photocopies of voter registration and ballot papers used in the conduct of the election, and not permission to access the database of INEC, as misconceived by the electoral body.
Given the legal battles and the possible impact on preparations for the forthcoming elections, INEC is now considering postponing the governorship and state assembly elections.
This decision, if taken, would have significant implications for the electoral process and could further heighten tensions in the country.
The ongoing legal battles highlight the need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure a free, fair and credible electoral process. It is essential that INEC and other stakeholders prioritize the integrity of the electoral process over political expediency and work towards resolving these legal disputes in a timely and transparent manner.
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