The executive committee members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from 19 northern states have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to warn emirs and other northern traditional rulers against child marriage.
They gave the warning on Thursday when they met with President Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
They also told the president that Christians were facing difficulties in practising their faith in Northern Nigeria.
The chairman of the body, Rev. Yakubu Pam, later told State House reporters that they visited Aso Rock to inform the president about some of the challenges confronting Christians in the north.
“We came to present ourselves, as the northern CAN chapter, to the president and tell him some of the challenges that Northern Christians are passing through. And one of those challenges is that we are having difficulties in expressing our faith in the northern part of the country.
Pam, who said they raised the issue of girl-child abduction in the north, stated: “In some northern states, some young girls and children are being abducted at 12 years old and the parents will just hear that the girls have been married to traditional rulers and emirs. This is gathering a cloud of crisis already, and if that is not taken care of, it will lead to a serious crisis. These are the issues we told the president.”
He said they also informed President Buhari about the need to protect Christians in the north from Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes.
“In fact, we told the president that we have been encouraging our youths to go into farming and they need to be protected, and when they come into the city, there is no employment. That is why farmers must be protected,” he explained.
Pam said the president’s response “was very positive as he promised us that he was going to look into them.”
He said they congratulated Buhari on the recent wedding of his daughter as well as the anti-corruption war and the fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
Pam acknowledged that the anti-terror was was yielding results “as people have started returning to their homes and the return of the Chibok girls.”
A statement later issued by the president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying that he would keep faith with the oath of office he took and treat all Nigerians equitably.
Buhari, according to the statement, also pledged to restore peace to all parts of Nigeria, noting that “Restoring peace is top priority. We will enable the law enforcement agencies to combat all forms of violent crimes, and ensure that our people live in peace.”
President Buhari was said to have urged the clerics to promote religious harmony, by enhancing understanding among different faiths.