Niger speaker makes u-turn on plans to marry off 100 girls

The Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, has withdrawn his support from a controversial wedding ceremony planned for 100 female orphans in his constituency.

The girls are said to be orphaned IDPs in Niger State.

The decision came after a legal challenge initiated by the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Ohannaya.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Speaker Sarkindaji stated that his withdrawal followed a lawsuit filed by Minister, whom he accused of overstepping her official boundary.

“The Minister has decided to drag me to court over this matter, which I believe is beyond the scope of her office,” Sarkindaji stated. He further suggested that the Minister should now take over the sponsorship of the wedding.

The Speaker had previously arranged funding for the ceremony, channelling funds through local traditional leaders and clerics to assist the families of the orphaned girls. Despite pulling out of the event, he affirmed his commitment to the financial pledges already made.

“I have made the funds available to the girls’ families, and I will not retract my support,” he declared.

Sarkindaji also clarified his initial motivation for opting to sponsor the event, pointing out that it was meant to alleviate the financial burden on the girls’ families as provided for by Islam, rather than serving as a constituency project or forceful marriage as some reports had erroneously indicated.