Minister petitions IG over marriage plans for 100 orphans in Niger

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Minister petitions IG over marriage plans for 100 orphans in Niger

CHIGOZIE AMADI

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, and sought a court injunction to stop the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, from marrying off 100 orphaned girls.

The Speaker recently announced plans to marry off the orphaned girls, who lost their parents due to banditry attacks in the Mariga Local Government Area as part of his constituency projects on May 24.

He announced that the gesture was “aimed at alleviating the suffering of the impoverished”, pledging to pay the dowries for the bridegrooms and procuring materials for the mass marriage.

Kennedy-Ohanenye, while briefing newsmen in Abuja described the plans as “unacceptable” emphasising that a full-scale investigation has commenced on the issue.

“I want to let the honourable speaker of the house in Niger states know that this is unacceptable by the Federal Minister Of Women Affairs and by the government unacceptable.

“Because there is something called the Child’s Rights Act and I said it from the onset, that is no more business as usual.

“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 the police.

”And I have filed for an 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,” she said.

The minister, while emphasising the need to ensure girl-child education and empowerment, stressed the need to… “As the speaker did not think about empowering these women or sending them to school or giving them some kind of training support financially.”

“The ministry has 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 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,” she said.

The minister further emphasised within the Child Rights Act, every child belongs to the state, hence the rights of every child will be protected from harm, violence or anything that will infringe on their rights.