Nigeria Lawmaker’s Plan For Mass Wedding ceremony Of Orphans Sparks Uproar

Nigeria Lawmaker’s Plan For Mass Wedding ceremony Of Orphans Sparks Uproar

Mass weddings are frequent in largely Muslim northern Nigeria

Kola Sulaimon

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A Nigerian state lawmaker’s plan to sponsor the wedding of 100 brides orphaned by violence has sparked a row over non secular and cultural norms and requires the courts to intervene.

Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the speaker of the native meeting in northwest Niger State, deliberate to help the wedding of the orphans, who’ve all misplaced family to assaults on villages by closely armed gangs.

Sarkindaji mentioned he was merely serving to his constituents, however the minister of girls affairs and different officers have denounced the proposal.

They’ve expressed concern that among the orphans may be underage or being compelled to conform for monetary acquire.

Mass weddings will not be unusual in Nigeria, particularly within the largely Muslim north, the place they’re seen as a method to assist impoverished households handle their bills.

However underage marriage additionally occurs in rural areas the place communities wrestle with poverty, insecurity and little entry to schooling.

Sarkindaji, a member of the ruling All Progressive Congress social gathering, pledged final week to assist households within the mass marriage ceremony later this month.

However on Tuesday, federal Girls Affairs Minister Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye referred to as for an investigation into their ages, their consent to marriage and the id of their potential companions.

“That is completely unacceptable,” she instructed journalists.

“I’ve written a petition to the police… and I’ve filed a case for an injunction to cease him from no matter he’s planning on doing.”

A senior particular assistant to the presidency on group engagement has additionally objected.

Abiodun Essiet referred to as on state officers to carry the ladies into empowerment programmes — particularly because it was believed a few of them could also be kids.

“I’m not towards conducting marriage for orphans above 18 years of age if they offer their consent to the wedding,” she wrote on X, previously Twitter.

“However I’m towards underaged marriage. Let kids be kids.”

No particulars have been instantly accessible on the ages of the orphans.

Quickly after the minister’s remarks, the Niger meeting speaker instructed reporters he was withdrawing his help for the mass marriage ceremony and would let the households determine.

“The wedding for these orphans is withdrawn,” he instructed reporters on Tuesday. “I did it in good religion.”

However he was crucial of the minister, saying she was “not from the north” of Nigeria.

He didn’t really feel threatened by her motion as he was only a “good samaritan”, he added. “The minister ought to please discover out who I’m,… and the way I’ve been supportive to my folks.”

His place drew help from the state’s imams organisation and different Muslim teams. Accusing the minister of overstepping her place, they referred to as for her suspension.

“We consider she made these pronouncements based mostly on her place as a non-Muslim,” Mahmud Lawal Murshid, Niger state President of Muslim Pupil Society, mentioned in a press release.

“If she have been a Muslim she would not have mentioned what she mentioned.”

In January a Muktar Aliyu Betara, a Nigerian lawmaker from Borno state, sponsored a mass marriage ceremony for 180 ladies from his constituency.

Aged between 17 and 18, they’d misplaced their dad and mom to jihadist violence.

Betara paid for all the marriage bills because the households of the brides couldn’t afford the bills.

Final 12 months, Nigeria’s northwest Kano State financed and staged a mass marriage ceremony for 1,800 {couples} as a part of efforts to assist the poorest residents get married.

The initiatives got here as Nigeria faces robust financial circumstances.

Excessive gasoline costs and rising meals inflation are driving some Nigerians, many who dwell on lower than $2 a day, additional into poverty in Africa’s most populous nation.

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