Minister Withdraws Orphan-Marriage Suit Against Niger Assembly

Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, Minister of Women Affairs, has withdrawn a lawsuit she had brought against Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, over his plan to marry off 100 orphans from his constituency.

Speaking with reporters, the minister stated that the ministry, in partnership with the speaker of the Niger State Assembly and the state’s traditional rulers, is now investigating the girls’ ages to see whether they are of marriageable age.

According to her, the Ministry of Women Affairs will, for now, focus on empowering girls, as well as others affected by insecurity in the state.

Last week, the speaker, Sarkindaji, announced plans to marry off 100 orphans in his constituency as part of measures to alleviate their sufferings.

While the development had sparked national outrages, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), urged the minister to withdraw the litigation and petition she wrote to the Inspector General of Police.

The Chairman, Kano State Chapter of MURIC, Malam Hassan Indabawa, who made the call on Thursday night in a statement, urged Nigerians to learn to respect one another’s culture and traditions.

“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.”

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

“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,” Indabawa said.

The marriage arrangement in question is slated to take place on May 24, 2024.