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Minister Petitions IGP, Asks Court To Stop Niger Mass Wedding Of 100 Orphans

Last week, the Speaker announced that he would sponsor the wedding of 100 girls, some of whom were orphaned by insurgency, as part of his Mariga constituency project.


The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye. Credit: X

 

The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, seeking his support to stop the planned marriage by the Speaker of Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji.

Kennedy-Ohanenye also filed for a court injunction to stop the planned marriage of 100 orphans said to be children by the Speaker.

Last week, the Speaker announced that he would sponsor the wedding of 100 girls, some of whom were orphaned by insurgency, as part of his Mariga constituency project. He said he had procured materials for the event scheduled for May 24 and promised to pay dowries for the bridegrooms.

Following the outcry that trailed the announcement, the speaker explained that he was only financing the wedding — not forcing the girls into marriage.

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But briefing journalists in Abuja on Monday, the minister said a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the issue will be carried out.

She said the ministry will take responsibility for the girls’ education and vocational training.

“The Ministry has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and sought a court injunction to put a hold on the sponsored marriage until further investigation is carried out with a view to ensuring that the welfare of the orphans are adequately covered,” a statement by the minister’s spokesman, Ohaeri Osondu Joseph, read.

See the full statement below:

FEDERAL MINISTRY OF WOMEN AFFAIRS, ABUJA

PRESS RELEASE

WOMEN AFFAIRS MINISTRY MOVES AGAINST MASS MARRIAGE OF 100 ORPHAN GIRLS IN NIGER STATE

… advocates for their education and empowerment

The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has said that the proposed plan by the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, to organise a mass marriage for the 100 female orphans in the State on May 24, should be investigated so as to ascertain their ages, consent as well as preparedness for the union.

The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Barrister (Mrs) Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye made the disclosure Monday, during a Press Briefing held in her office in Abuja, in reaction to the recently announced plans by the Speaker, to marry off the orphans girls who lost their parents during the banditry attacks in Mariga Local Government Area of the State, as part of his constituency projects

While acknowledging the good gesture of the Speaker aimed at alleviating the suffering of the impoverished by pledging to pay the dowries of the bridegroom and in the procurement of the materials for the mass marriage, Barrister Kennedy-Ohanenye observed the need for the Speaker to consider the future of the children by finding out whether they prefer marriage to education and empowerment

The Minister opined that rather than the step being taken by him to fulfil his constituency projects, the Speaker should rather look towards developing them through education, skills acquisition and other forms of empowerment as this will not only be of immense benefit to them but would also contribute to the overall development of the society.

These girls like their contemporaries in the country and globe, have great potentials and talents and as such need to be given the opportunity to develop and reach their optimum in life, she said

According to her, by prioritizing education and empowerment over early marriage, the cycle of poverty and inequality that plaques orphans will be broken from their lives, thus enabling them to marry husbands of their choices and further reducing cases of gender based violence and out-of-school children which are usually the resultant effect of such unions.

Barr Uju also stated that in line with its mandate under the Child’s Rights Act, the Ministry has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and sought a court injunction to put a hold on the sponsored marriage until further investigation is carried out with a view to ensuring that the welfare of the orphans are adequately covered.

The Minister further restated the Ministry’s commitment to the protection of the lives of the women, children and the vulnerable in society, in line with its mandate.

Ohaeri Osondu Joseph Fnipr , Fcai

Special Assistant, Media