100 ‘bride-to-be minors’ for bone marrow test: FG

The federal government has ordered a bone marrow test to ascertain the ages of 100 female Orphans, shortlisted for mass wedding in Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State.

The move followed the insistence by the Speaker of Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji to marry off the girls reported to have lost their parents due to banditry attacks in the Area as part of his Constituency projects on May 24 2024, having confirmed that the girls aren’t forced to marry.

Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the Minister of Women Affairs, said this on African Independent Television, AIT, Tuesday, clarifying that the federal government intervened following a petition against the Speaker that the girls were minors.

Mrs Kennedy-Ohanenye said, “Most times, I do not just get into any case. When my Children cry, I come through and fight for their rights. That is my duty. I don’t just hear anything and walk into it.

The Minister said, “I am going to take that investigation to the later. I am going to do everything even if the Child says I am 18. If it ends up doing bone marrow test to confirm the age, I am read to go to that extent.

“These Children are Orphans. They have no voice. They have nobody to speak for them. I am there as a Minister of a Women Affairs to speak for them because every Child belongs to the State.

“When I heard and got the petition I did to the Inspector General of Police, IGP. I made some calls and I have been following up through a Senior Special Assistant to Mr President in that Community in Niger State.

“Since then, I have been consulting and I have found out that some of those girls are 13-year-old. I have evidence.

“I just didn’t walk into this case just like that. But, the most important thing to note is that without been called by my Children. And I have to do my duties”, she said.

The Minister recalled a Court order she obtained, halting the wedding plans by the Speaker whom he accused of going ahead to sponsor the wedding expenses, by purporting that the girls were not minors but underprivileged adults.

The Minister assured that a bone marrow test for the girls would enhance the ongoing full-scale investigation on the controversy.

She stated that “when the Speaker said in a video that he is going to withdraw in embarking on the mass wedding, I knew the plan”.

“They had a plan for me to probably calm down, get off the court and go and do that they needed to do. By the time I come back, it becomes late.

“So, I am still going ahead with my Court matter. The case is still going on like he said. I do not really have much to say to him. I do not have a personal issue with him.

“I am trying to protect the Children, protect their rights and allow them to breath”, she said.

Asked why the Minister did not conclude her investigation before proceeding with the legal action against t the Speaker, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, said there is no time. On the 24th of May 2024 is the date they have for the mass wedding.

“And If I fold my alms and investigate as I am doing now without getting a formal injunction to stop them from that until the investigation is concluded, that could mess up everything that I am planning”, the Minister said.

She further revealed that if she has not done due diligence, she would not have gone to court, noting that she will not made further disclosure about her evidence.

TheNewspad recalls that the Niger State Assembly Speaker in a previous interview with newsmen alleged that the ages of the girls are between 18 and 24 years in line the Islamic laws that allow them to be married.

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