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Mixed reactions trail new Sokoto marital expenses law

Residents of Sokoto State are now debating the recent amendment of a law that regulates spending on wedding and naming ceremonies in the state.  The…

Residents of Sokoto State are now debating the recent amendment of a law that regulates spending on wedding and naming ceremonies in the state. 

The law tagged “Regulation and Control of Expenses of Marriages, Naming and Circumcision Ceremonies and for Purposes Connected Therewith-2022” was awaiting the assent of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. 

The law was first enacted in 1992 and reviewed in 1996.  

The co-sponsor of the bill and member, representing Yabo constituency, Abubakar Shehu Yabo, said the law is aimed at reducing the extravagances in organising these ceremonies in the state. 

Why we reviewed the law – Yabo 

Honourable Shehu Yabo explained that the house had acted following a series of complaints received from members of the public over the high cost of marriage in the state. 

“As you are aware today, getting married by our youth has become a great challenge following the economic hardship and unnecessary spending. 

“Such traditional madness has continued to pave ways to an increased number of crises which have been leading to rampant divorces within our society,” Yabo said. 

He said the law limits the pre-wedding expenses to only two cartons of sweets with N20,000 but there is no limitation to dowry. 

He said it also pegged the purchase of clothes for the bride to only 10 wrappers, among others. 

He added that the law stipulates one month imprisonment for violators or an option of N50,000 fine. 

He further explained that the law would only be applied on Muslims. 

Why marriage is expensive in Sokoto 

A resident of the state, Jamilu Altine Kware, noted that the lowest amount a groom could spend on his wedding was N1,000,000. 

“The sum of N150,000 is for introduction; another 150,000 for bride price; N300,000 for wrappers, cosmetics and shoes; 100,000 for a set of boxes and N50,000 to the bride for pre-wedding activities,” he said. 

On the side of the bride, her parents need at least N1.5 million to buy furniture, kitchen utensils and foodstuffs, among others for their daughter. 

Another resident, Malam Musa Ubandawaki whose son was preparing for his wedding, said they have so far spent like N1.4 million on wedding dresses for the bride to be.  

“We are now preparing for the payment of dowry and other expenses which we estimate will consume at least N350,000,” he said.  

Daily Trust reports that spending towards a wedding normally starts from the time a boy starts dating a girl when he is expected to make his intention known to the parents of the girl.   

The would-be-groom is expected to present several items including cartons of sweets, noodles, crates of soft drinks, cartons of biscuits, kola nuts and money to the parents of the would-be-bride.   

These items are usually brought to the girl’s house in a long motorcade involving family members and friends.  

According to Malam Mustapha Muhammad, one is required to present at least, between 10 and 20 crates of soft drinks, depending on his capacity and the family background of the lady.  

“And they will in addition bring along at least N100,000 as a monetary gift to the girl.  

“Some will bring things that would be enough for one to start a shop.  

“And the girl’s family is expected to reciprocate by preparing delicious food with drinks to the family of the groom who brought the items.  

“Just last week, my elder sister told me that she spent over N100,000 on food to receive a family that came to bring the items for her daughter,” he said. 

Marital expenses lead to chaos 

Muhammad lamented that some of the marital problems being experienced in the state are traced to this tradition.  

“It generates high expectations within the two families. When the family of the girl prepares something that is not commensurate with the items brought to them, the family of the to-be-groom will not be happy with them and vice versa.  

“This usually causes a problem between the two families and in some cases affects the marriage,” he said.  

Nothing wrong with tradition – Sa’adatu  

Speaking to Daily Trust, Malama Sa’adatu Haruna Illo said there was nothing wrong with ‘the tradition because it was an expression of love and appreciation by lovers.  

“I don’t support its cancellation. There is no harm in it. It is just a means of showing appreciation to the lady for accepting you as her suitor,” she said.  

She maintained that the practice was not against their religion or tradition. “In fact, God orders us to always reciprocate good deeds with good,” she said.  

She however said a lot of people misunderstood the concept, as it did not require spending much.  

“A sweet of N50 can suffice. You don’t need to bring cartons as long as there is love,” she added.   

A renowned cleric in the state, Sheikh Habit Sani Maihula, said it was very important for the people of the state to abide by the laws concerning marriage and any other religious laws.  

He stated that extravagance in marriage is not encouraged by Islam.  

“The negative effect of extravagance is that we will have our sisters unmarried because marital expenses in our society are scary.  

“When someone spends millions of naira to marry a lady, another person who is looking to marry another lady from the same family may have a problem.   

“Islam does not put limitations on dowry but it cautions us against extravagant marriage. 

“As far as the law is concerned, I think it is good for the state government, the Sultanate Council and other authorities including the Ulamah to come in and take some measures against extravagant expenses in marriage,” he said. 

Maman Aishat who is a resident of Mana area said the bill was a source of joy to every family, commending the state house of assembly for reviewing the law.  

The Sadaukin Sokoto, Malam Lawal Maidoki, while commending the lawmakers, urged members of the public to abide by the law after the assent of the bill.  

“The lawmakers did what was expected from them by Islam and members of the society and this single act can lead them to paradise.  

“It is now the duty of every Muslim to abide by the law when it is finally implemented by the governor of the state,” he said. 

Another renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Isa Talatan Mafata, however kicked against the law, saying it contravenes provisions of the Shari’ah law.  

“The lawmakers have no right to regulate marriage expenses because the Shari’ah encourages everyone to marry a person that matches his social class.  

“If you are not rich you cannot go and marry the daughter of the richest person in your community because you will not enjoy the marriage.  

“This law first surfaced during the Bafarawa administration and when they sought my advice, I told them it would not work. I cited an example with the then Sultan, Muhammadu Maccido. If you were marrying his daughter and you brought two packs of kola nuts, would that be enough? I believe even 100 packs of kola nuts would not be sufficient for them.  

“Take for instance, somebody taking the hand of the governor’s daughter for marriage. Do you think they will accept N10,000 or two packets of sweets?  

“When they sought my submission, I told them the law would not see the light of the day because those in power would be the first to violate it.  

“It would only affect the masses but it would not be imposed on those in position or the rich in the state,” he said.