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  • News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: May 14, 2024

Women Affairs Minister petitions IGP over plans by Niger Speaker to marry off orphaned girls

Women Affairs Minister petitions IGP over plans by Niger Spe

Minister of Women Affairs,
Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Kayode Egbetokun seeking a court injunction to stop plans by the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, to marry off 100 orphaned girls whose parents were killed by bandits and terrorists. 

Sarkindaji had last week, announced that he was making plans to marry off orphaned girls who lost their parents due to banditry attacks in Mariga Local Government Area as part of his constituency project on May 24.

While announcing the plans, the Speaker had said his 'noble' is “aimed at alleviating the suffering of the impoverished" in his constituency. 

He also pledged to pay the dowries for the grooms as well as procure the necessary materials for the mass marriage.

However, the announcement had elicited condemnation from many Nigerians who see the lawmaker's gesture as a wrong move against the girls. 

The Minister, who also frowned at the plans, said she would do everything possible to truncate the mass wedding including reporting the matter to President Bola Tinubu. 

While addressing journalists at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Kennedy-Ohanenye, described the plans as unacceptable, adding that a full-scale investigation has commenced on the issue.

“I want to let the honorable Speaker of the House in Niger State to know that this is totally unacceptable by the Federal Minister Of Women Affairs and by the government," she said.

"There is something called the  Child’s Right Act and I said it from the onset, that is no more business as usual.

“These children must be considered, their future must be considered, the future of the children to come out of their marriage must be considered. So I have gone to court. I have written him a letter and written a petition to the IG of police.

“And I have filed for injunction to stop him from whatever he is planning to do on the 24th, until a thorough investigation is carried out on those girls, find out whether they gave their consent, their ages, find out the people marrying them.

“The Speaker did not think about empowering these women or sending them to school or giving them some kind of training support financially. The Women Affairs have decided to take it up and we are going to educate the children.

“Those that do not want to go to school, we will train them in a skill, empower them with sustainable empowerment machines to enable that child to build his or her life and make-up her minds about who and when to get married. 

"If for any reason the Speaker tries to do something contrary to what I have just mentioned, there will be a serious legal battle between him and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs. I will report the matter to the President so that the necessary action can be taken,” she added. 

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