Women Affairs Minister Petitions Niger Speaker Over Proposed Mass Wedding For 100 Girls In The State

In a bid to protect the rights of vulnerable girls, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the Minister of Women Affairs, has taken decisive action against a proposed mass wedding in Niger State. The minister has lodged a formal petition with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and sought a court injunction to prevent the marriage of 100 girls in the region.

The controversy erupted following an announcement by Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, disclosing his intention to sponsor the wedding of 100 girls, some of whom had been orphaned by insurgency, as part of his Maringa constituency project.

He pledged to provide materials for the event, slated for May 24, and assured to cover the dowries for the brides. Following public reaction, Sarkindaji clarified that his involvement was solely financial and not coercive.

However, Kennedy-Ohanenye swiftly condemned the plan, emphasising the paramount importance of the girls’ futures.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Kennedy-Ohanenye vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the proposed mass wedding. She underscored the Ministry’s commitment to prioritizing the education and vocational training of the affected girls.

“The actions proposed by the Speaker are utterly unacceptable to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and the government at large. We are duty-bound to uphold the Child’s Right Act and ensure the welfare and future prospects of these girls.” said Kennedy-Ohanenye.

She revealed that legal measures had been initiated to halt the event until the investigation could ascertain crucial details such as the girls’ consent, ages, and the identities of their prospective spouses.

 She criticised the lack of empowerment initiatives for the girls, stressing the importance of providing educational and skill-based opportunities.

“If the Speaker persists in disregarding these fundamental rights, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs stands prepared to engage in a legal battle,” warned the minister.

The minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to safeguarding the rights of every child, as enshrined in the Child Rights Act.

Chioma Kalu

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