100 girls’ wedding: Stop acting on impulse, Niger speaker tells minister

The Niger state speaker, Hon. Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, has urged the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, to stop acting on misleading report and impulse on his sponsorship of the wedding of 100 girls in Mariga constituency of Niger state by casting aspersions on the good intentions of the programme.

The speaker stated this in Minna Wednesday while speaking with Blueprint in response to the minister’s threat to stop the wedding of the girls in court.

Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, had in a press briefing in Abuja few days ago described the planned mass wedding of the girls as being in contravention of the Child Rights Act, adding that, “I have petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and sought for a court injunction to stop Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, speaker of the Niger state House of Assembly from marrying off 100 orphaned girls.”

However, speaking with Blueprint, the speaker insisted that threatening legal action against his sponsorship of the wedding of the girls by the minister is misplaced priority and causing unnecessary controversies aimed at discrediting the good intentions of the exercise.

He said: “I am highly disappointed in the minister of women affairs and it is unfortunate that she allowed herself and her office to be misled by social media reports without finding out from me the true situation on ground concerning these weddings. However, as I have said before, the parents of the girls and the spouses have decided to go ahead with the event as planned. There is no going back on it as being speculated in some media.”

He expressed concern that the minister failed to make contact with the affected girls and their parents to get authentic information about the marriage sponsorship exercise before rushing to threaten court action on the issue she knew nothing about and never bothered to find out the truth.

“I didn’t force any girl into marriage, it was the parents of the girls that approached me and solicited for my support and I gladly accepted to assist them. However, if the minister feel otherwise, she can go to Mariga and stop the parents from wedding their daughters to the suitors,” he said.