Wedding Suspended As Minister, Niger State Speaker Partner To Empower 100 Girls

Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, minister of women affairs, says the planned marriage of 100 girls in Niger state has been suspended.

Kennedy-Ohanenye spoke in Abuja on Friday after meeting with Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, speaker of the Niger state house of assembly.

The meeting was also attended by Mohammed Mu’azu, Emir of Kotangora.

Sarkindaji had last week said he would sponsor the wedding ceremony of the girls on May 24 as part of his constituency obligations.

The development sparked controversy on social media, with many saying the speaker should have channelled the money into giving the girls an education or skills.

On Monday, Kennedy-Ohanenye stepped into the matter and asked the speaker to halt his plans or face legal action.

The minister said she had petitioned the inspector-general of police (IGP) and sought a court injunction to stop the planned wedding.

Sarkindaji subsequently cancelled his participation in the event and asked the minister to take over.

The speaker said the parents and guardians of the girls, most of whom are orphans, could do whatever they wished with the resources he had provided.


Addressing journalists after the meeting, the minister said she and Sarkindaji have reconciled their differences and are now partnering to seek better alternatives for the girls.

Kennedy-Ohanenye said she secured an injunction from the Minna high court to restrain the organisers from proceeding with the wedding.

She added that “the court injunction still subsists till we resolve all grey areas”.

“I want to let you know that as I speak to you now, I’m at peace with my royal father, Emir of Kontagora, Mohammed Bara’u Mu’azu, and I am in good terms with my brother, the Speaker. We have made peace,” Kennedy-Ohanenye said.

The emir also said he has suspended the proposed wedding and pledged his emirate’s willingness to partner with the ministry to provide a new lease of life for the girls.


Kennedy-Ohanenye said, for a start, there will be a meeting with the girls to discuss their individual needs and preferences.

She said her ministry has taken “the entire village as a job,” promising to extend the opportunities for education and skill acquisition beyond the 100 girls to other orphans.

The minister described herself as a “protective mother hen” who is committed to defending the rights and safety of the vulnerable girls under her care.

“So, I have no problem with anybody. I have no problem with any religion, all I want to say is please don’t tamper with my children, don’t tamper with my women,” she said.

“My brother, the Speaker came to my office, and we have partnered (ministry of women affairs and the Speaker) to empower these women.

“The ones that want to go to school, we will send them to school. This ministry has taken up this village now as a job, and I am promising Nigerians. I am going to empower them with sustainable economic empowerment.

“By talking to them, I will know the kind of things they like to farm, and I will give them huge machines. If it is rice, beans, or corn, I will put one for a whole village to manage themselves and onboard them in the system on our portal.

“And whatever the federal government is doing for every other person, all of them will get it.

“I will go to the extent of giving them small phones—at least one in each family—to enable them to communicate and get involved in the portal so that they will be like every other woman.

“Because the speaker told me a lot of things concerning the village, like how they are always tormented by the bandits, everybody ends up there. If bandits want to hide, they end up there.

“But I am going to send them to this particular community, and these children will be able to go to school. We will empower them, teach them skills, and give them what to start off their skills with.

“I will equally help them on marketing whatever they will make out of their skills. We shall not, we will not abandon them.

“We are now working together to make sure we better the lives of these girls, not just the 100 girls but all the orphans, all the people that have been affected by this banditry and the insecurity we used to have before.”

The minister said her position on the matter reflects the wishes of President Bola Tinubu and thanked Nigerians for supporting her initiatives.

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