The recent announcement by the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, regarding his sponsorship of the wedding of 100 orphan girls, has stirred significant controversy and concern. This initiative, purportedly part of the Mariga constituency project, has faced scrutiny, particularly from the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye.

Kennedy-Ohanenye wasted no time in taking action, petitioning the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, to intervene and prevent the planned marriage. She also filed for a court injunction to halt the event, citing the need for further investigation into the circumstances surrounding the matter.

The Speaker’s announcement, made last week, outlined his intentions to finance the wedding, scheduled for May 24. He assured that some of the girls were orphaned by insurgency and pledged to cover the dowries for the bridegrooms. However, despite his clarification that the girls were not being coerced into marriage, concerns persisted.

In response to the public outcry, Minister Kennedy-Ohanenye emphasized the importance of safeguarding the welfare of the orphaned girls. She announced that the Ministry of Women Affairs would take responsibility for their education and vocational training, ensuring they receive the necessary support and opportunities for empowerment.

The ministry’s official statement, issued in Abuja, highlighted their proactive measures to address the issue. It stated their petition to the IGP and their pursuit of a court injunction to temporarily halt the sponsored marriage until a thorough investigation is conducted. Their primary objective is to ensure that the welfare of the orphans is adequately addressed and that they are not subjected to any form of coercion or exploitation.