, ABUJA, May 19 – A Nigerian senator, under fire for marrying a 13-year-old Egyptian girl, was on Tuesday quizzed by investigators, an official statement said.
Investigators of the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) questioned Ahmed Sani Yerima for two hours over the marriage, the agency said in the statement.
"The senator stated he had not contravened any aspect of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He confirmed that the marriage (was) held as reported and was officiated by the chief Imam of Abuja National Mosque," the statement said.
Yerima, 49, supplied an affidavit of marriage from the Sharia Court of Appeal in Abuja, and told investigators that the girl was currently in a secondary school in Egypt, it added.
The lawmaker, who was granted bail until June 17, said the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003 "must have been enacted in error" and that he and his government rejected it when he was Zamfara governor between 1999 and 2007, the statement said. The law forbids marriage to anyone under 18.
Last week, the senator justified his actions by saying he was following in the footsteps of Islam\’s Prophet Mohammed.
"I am only following Prophet Mohammed\’s footsteps who married a nine-year-old girl, Aishatu," Yerima told journalists last week Monday.
Yerima was governor of Zamfara when it became the first of 12 Muslim-dominated northern states to introduce Sharia law in 2000.
The Nigerian Senate has ordered a probe after the national rights watchdog and 10 other groups accused him of shaming the country.
Media reports have alleged Yerima paid a 100,000-dollar dowry before marrying the girl.
He faces 500,000 naira (3,270 dollars, 2,680 euros) fine or five years jail term, or both on conviction, NAPTIP spokesman, Orakwue Arinze, told AFP.
NAPTIP was established in 2003 to fight human trafficking and child abuse.