Minister Withdraws Suit Against Niger Assembly Speaker Over Orphan Marriages

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The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye has withdrawn a lawsuit against the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji over his controversial decision to marry off 100 orphans from his constituency.

In a statement, Kennedy-Ohanenye explained that the Ministry of Women Affairs, in collaboration with the Niger State Assembly Speaker and local traditional rulers, is currently investigating the ages of the girls to ensure they meet the legal age for marriage.

She emphasised that the ministry’s current focus is on empowering girls and supporting those affected by insecurity in the state.

LEADERSHIP recalls that earlier last week, Sarkindaji announced his plan to marry off 100 orphans as a measure to alleviate their suffering.

This announcement triggered a national outcry, with many questioning the ethics and legality of the decision.

In response, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) urged the minister to withdraw the litigation and the petition she had submitted to the Inspector General of Police.

MURIC’s Kano State Chapter Chairman, Malam Hassan Indabawa, issued the statement calling for respect for cultural and traditional practices.

“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,” Indabawa said.

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

Indabawa further criticised the minister’s actions as a deliberate attempt to sway public opinion against the marriage institution and vilify Sarkindaji.

“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,” he added.

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

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