Marrying off 100 orphan girls will reduce fornication: Niger Speaker

On May 24, the Niger speaker revealed plans to marry off orphaned girls who had lost their parents to banditry in the Mariga LGA as part of his constituency initiative.

Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji, the speaker of the Niger House of Assembly, has said that the plan to marry off 100 orphaned girls in his area is intended to discourage fornication.

On May 24, the speaker announced plans to marry off orphaned girls who have lost their parents as a result of banditry attacks in the Mariga Local Government Area as part of his constituency initiative.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, had petitioned the Inspector General of Police on the matter. She sought a court order to restrain the speaker from engaging 100 orphaned girls in forceful marriage.

However, in a press conference on Tuesday in Minna, Mr Sarking-daji explained that recently he announced plans to support orphan girls, especially victims of banditry attacks, to get married following an appeal by religious and traditional leaders from his constituency.

Mr Sarkin-daji said religious and traditional leaders approached him in his constituency to support less privileged parents whose children were due for marriage.

“They appealed for my support on behalf of the less privileged parents whose children are of maturity age with suitors of their choice but cannot afford marriage expenses.

“They wanted my support, and I felt that instead of allowing the girls to fall into fornication because of the marriage expenses, I decided to respect the appeal and support them,” he said.

The speaker further explained that apart from the Women Affairs Minister, he also received a message from Senior Special Assistant to President on Community Engagement, Abiodun Essiet, on the issue.

“The honourable minister should have got across to me directly to share ideas and work out the initiative on how to develop the gesture and serve as guidance rather than making a topic out of it,’’ Mr Sarkin Daji said.

He denied forcing the girls into marriage.

“I didn’t force any child into marriage, and I didn’t arrange the marriage of anybody,’’ he stated.

He urged the minister to confirm issues from reliable sources against relying on fake social media stories.

The speaker, however, said he withdrew the marriage support to the orphans following the ministers’ petition, pledging to communicate the action to his constituency soon.

Mr Sarkin-Daji said his support programme has benefited about 200 JAMB candidates, of whom the majority were orphans and internally displaced persons from his constituency.


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