Minister petitions Police, Court over planned mass wedding of 100 girls

Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, Minister of Women Affairs, has taken legal action to prevent the marriage of 100 girls in Niger state, sparking controversy over their welfare.

Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, recently announced plans to sponsor the wedding of 100 girls, some orphaned by insurgency, as part of a constituency project.

He further stated that he had acquired supplies for the occasion set for May 24 and pledged to cover the dowries for the grooms.

However, in response to the public outcry that ensued, the speaker clarified that his role was solely to fund the wedding and not to coerce the girls into marriage.

In her reaction to the development, the human affairs minister condemned the plan, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing the girls’ futures and invoking the Child Rights Act to safeguard their well-being.

She also petitioned the Inspector-General of Police and sought a court injunction to halt the event, vowing to ensure the girls receive education and vocational training instead of being pushed into marriage against their will.

“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.

“As the speaker did not think about empowering these women or sending them to school or giving them some kind of training support financially,” she said.

“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 build his or her life and make up her mind who and when to get married.

“If for any reason the speaker tries to do contrary to what I have just mentioned, there will be a serious legal battle between him and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs,” the minister added

The minister emphasized that according to the Child Rights Act, every child is under the protection of the state, ensuring that their rights are safeguarded against harm and violence.

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