Minister bows to pressure, withdraws suit seeking to stop Niger mass weddings



Uju Kennedy -Ohanenye, the Minister of Women Affairs, has withdrawn a suit earlier filed against the speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji over his plans to marry off 100 orphans from his constituency.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, Ohanenye noted that the ministry in collaboration with the speaker of the Niger state assembly, and traditional rulers from the state, are currently investigating the ages of the girls to ascertain if they are within the stipulated age for marriage.

She said the Ministry of Women Affairs will, for now, focus on empowering girls, as well as others affected by insecurity in the state.

Recall that last week, the speaker, Sarkindaji, announced plans to marry off 100 orphans in his constituency as part of measures to alleviate their sufferings.

While the development had sparked national outrages, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), urged the minister to withdraw the litigation and petition she wrote to the Inspector General of Police.

The Chairman, Kano State Chapter of MURIC, Malam Hassan Indabawa, who made the call on Thursday night in a statement, urged Nigerians to learn to respect one another’s culture and traditions.

“We found the harsh and hasty decision taken by the Honourable Minister for Women Affairs over a matter that is entirely beyond the scope of her ministry.

“The minister’s attempt at media demonisation of marrying off of 100 poor and orphaned girls, who were largely traumatised for losing both parents to brutal and bloody banditry and insurgency, exposed her ignorance to the culture and traditions of the Muslim North.

“This elaborate media blitz, over the matter, MURIC observed, was deliberately done to sway public opinion against the marriage institution, and an attempt to vilify Sarkin-Daji, after demonstrating his genuine concern for the needs of members of his constituency,” Indabawa said.

The marriage arrangement is slated to take place on May 24, 2024.

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