Children Of Polygamy Are Easy Recruits For Terrorists, Says Former Nigerian Central Bank Governor

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Written by Dana Sanchez

A Nigerian spiritual leader and former central bank governor says there are links between poverty, polygamy and terrorism, and he proposes a new law that would limit polygamous marriage and improve gender equality for women.

Muhammadu Sanusi II is a prominent Muslim spiritual leader in Kano state, the economic hub of northern Nigeria and its most populous state. Many see him as a reformer whose exposure and knowledge of Islam can help push much-needed reforms in the country’s north, Andalou Agency reported.

Sanusi was crowned the Emir of Kano on June 8, 2014 after being fired Feb. 20 from the top central bank job by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Sanusi claimed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was responsible for $20 billion in fraud, Premium Times reported.

Sanusi has a degree in sharia and Islamic studies from the African International University in Khartoum, Sudan, according to Biography Africa.

He wants to introduce a bill to rein in indiscriminate polygamy, forced marriages, underage marriages, make domestic violence illegal and protect divorced women.

Sanusi spoke Sunday at a memorial for Muslim scholar and Nigerian diplomat Isa Wali, who died 50 years ago. Wali was a former Nigerian ambassador to Ghana.

The proposed new law will address some of Wali’s concerns, Sanusi said, according to a Daily Trust report.

“(Wali) was very controversial in his writings for a conservative northern Muslim society,” Sanusi said. “He wrote against polygamy, he wrote for the equality of men and women in Islam, he supported the education of women.”

 

The bill will be submitted to parliament in Kano state, where Sanusi is highly influential as the foremost Muslim and traditional leader, Andalou Agency reported.

“The law will … outlaw forced marriages, it will make domestic violence illegal, it will put in the conditions that you must fulfill before you can marry a second wife,” Sanusi said

“It will introduce protection for divorced women, it sets out the responsibilities of a father beyond producing the child and the role of the court in taking care of children. It is a very big (law) because the law ranges from consent to marriage, from maintenance to divorce, from the maintenance of children to inheritance,” he added.

Northern Nigeria is plagued by men marrying multiple wives and fathering dozens of children they are unable to care for, Sanusi said. The children are left stranded on the streets where they become easy recruits for terrorist movements.

“We have all seen the economic consequence of men who are not capable of maintaining one wife marrying four, producing 20 children, not educating them, leaving them on the streets to end up as thugs and terrorists,” he said.

Such legislation is capable of having ripple effects outside Kano, which often sets the pace in several facets of life across the mostly Muslim region, Andalou reported.

The late ambassador Wali was one of the first northern Nigerian leaders to advocate for gender equality, and the law, if it passes, will immortalize him, Sanusi said, according to Reports Afrique.

The law will address the real position of Islam on marriage, Sanusi said. It will be the first time in northern Nigeria that a Muslim law on personal status will be codified. There is nothing wrong with polygamy, Sanusi said, according to Reports Afrique, However women must be given the opportunity to thrive.