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Biodun Olujimi withdraws gender equality bill after senators raise religious concerns

Author:
Dyepkazah Shibayan

Biodun Olujimi, senator representing Ekiti south, was made to stand down a bill seeking to promote women empowerment and gender equality.

Olujimi withdrew the bill after some senators cited “socio-cultural and Islamic concerns”.

While leading debate on the bill on the floor of the senate on Wednesday, the senator said the legislation will help eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

“This bill seeks to further strengthen section 42 of the constitution. It seeks to eliminate gender-based violence. This bill was read for the first time in 2019,” she said.

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“It will allow for the prohibition of all forms of discrimination against women. It will provide for the equality of all persons. If enacted, it will prohibit all forms of discrimination against women and persons living with disabilities.

“The bill will provide that the rights of widows are recognised.”

Kicking against the bill, Yusuf Yusuf, senator representing Taraba central, said the equality of the male and the female gender “infringes on the Quran”.

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“This equality infringes on the Quran. I will not support the passage of the bill until the word equal is removed. When you bring equality into it infringes on the Quran,” Yusuf said.

Also speaking, Aliyu Wamakko, senator representing Sokoto north, said equality is wrong when it comes to Islamic and socio-cultural practices.

“When it comes to socio-cultural practices, it is wrong,” Wamakko said.

“When you talk of equity it is Ok. When you talk of equality it is no. I will not support it.”

Supporting the bill, Istifanus Gyang, senator representing Plateau north, said women are entitled to equal opportunities.

“I support the passage of this bill,” Gyang said.

“Women have been at the receiving end of being excluded. Women are entitled to equal opportunities. Being a woman is not being less human.”

Ovie Omo-Agege, deputy senate president, said the bill should be allowed to go for second reading, and the concerns of Yusuf and Wamakko be addressed at a public hearing.

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“From the feelers that I’m getting in the chamber, it appears the consultation has not gone far enough,” Omo-Agege said.

“I want to plead that this bill should not be killed here but should be allowed to go for public hearing so if there is anything that Senator Olujimi missed, it will be addressed.”

Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the concerns of the senators speaking against the bill must be addressed if the proposed legislation must pass.

“Let us address the concerns of some of our colleagues here,” Lawan said.

“The clean bill of health that someone gives does not make it healthy enough.”

Olujimi had sponsored a similar bill in the eighth senate, but it was rejected.

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