The Oasis Reporters
May 1, 2019
Shock and consternation has greeted citizens of Bauchi that despite the meticulous steps the government has made to separate boys from girls in classes and keep them morally compliant, teenage students have found ways to circumvent those steps by secretly dating each other and conducting illegal marriages without the knowledge of their parents.
This stunning move was uncovered at the Sa’adu Zungur Model Primary and Secondary School in Bauchi, the state capital, and the State government, shut the school down at the weekend.
The closure order, which also affected the primary section of the school, it was gathered, was given on Friday by the state deputy governor, Nuhu Gidado, who doubles as the Commissioner for Education, following a report received by the government on the illegal marriages among the students.
According to a press statement issued by his Special Assistant on Communications, Yakubu Adamu, the deputy governor attributed the illegal marriages among the students to moral decadence in the society.
Gidado stated the school would remain closed until a committee set up by the state government to investigate the matter came up with a detailed report and recommendations.
The usually secretive and rampant event blew into the open last week during one of such illegal marriages.
It was further learnt that teachers in the school got to know about the act when a senior secondary (SS) 2 student organised one of such wedding ceremonies in the school premises to his alleged lover, also a senior student of the school.
The noise and cheers from jubilant co-students amidst the fun were said to have drawn the attention of the teachers, who rushed to find out what was happening only to discover that a ‘wedding’ ceremony was taking place between the two students.
They, however, reported their finding to the school’s principal, Mallam Ahmed Zailani, who in turn reported to the Ministry of Education with a view to taking appropriate sanction against the erring students.
Investigation revealed that male students usually pays N500 as bride price to the would-be ‘wife’ who are also students of the school as a condition for solemnisation of their marriages.
It further revealed that the ‘couples’ classmates also contributed money to buy snacks to eat during such ‘wedding’ ceremonies.
With the closure of the school and the angry reaction of the authorities, questions remain whether the marriages would be annulled by religious leaders or the government.
Would the married students be expelled?
However, child brides are common all over northern Nigeria, a traditional feature that started losing its lure in Southern Nigeria gradually since the 70s, though still lingers in some isolated communities.
Bauchi State is in Nigeria’s much troubled North east where Boko Haram Islamist fighters often kidnap school girls and forcibly marry them off to their cadres or sell them off as the sect’s leader, Ibrahim Shekau once boasted in a widely circulated video.
However, many graduate girls in their late 30s to 50s especially in the southern parts of Nigeria often experience difficulties in finding suitors due to long periods of time spent studying. Even when they do get married, pregnancy and childbirth becomes daunting challenges.
Additional reporting : Tribune Online