Brides by barter – Inside story of Niger state communities where young girls are forced into marriages

This investigation looks into the practice of forced marriages on young girls in several communities in Niger state. 

Over 200 residents, in Saganuwan-Kulla village, near Etsu Audu, Gbako Local Government Area (LGA), swooped on the community head’s compound on Sunday, July 16, when The ICIR visited the community. The crew sought to interview the parents of a teenager, Amina Abubakar, one of the victims of forced marriage in the state. 

Usman Alhassan is the head of Saganuwan-Kulla community. Amina’s father had died before her wedding. Alhassan sent for Amina’s mother; she was far away on the farm. 

The chief then sent for Abubakar Tauhid, Amina’s uncle, to speak on behalf of the family. Tauhid has led the family since Amina’s father died.

Alhassan knew about Amina’s wedding. He expressed disappointment in the girl and said nobody forced her into marriage. He narrated all he knew about the wedding and argued that her family did it with her consent.

Tauhid’s arrival attracted more than 200 villagers who besieged the building and threatened to deal with the reporters for having the guts to question the villagers over their daughter’s marriage. The crew eventually escaped by a whisker after briefly interviewing Tauhid.

Some Saganuwan-Kulla residents thronged the village head’s compound before mobilising others to descend on The  ICIR reporters.

That is the usual mood in most communities where a girl forced into marriage has absconded from her husband’s home. Many villagers see the girl’s action as conflicting with their culture and the Islamic religion, which is the predominant faith in the state. 

Amina Tauhid Abubakar 

Amina lived with her uncle in Minna from childhood until 2020, when her mother withdrew her from school to marry a man her late father had chosen for her before his death. She was then in primary four.


The soft-spoken girl had hoped to become a doctor in a country where only four doctors attend to 10,000 people and possibly help reduce the country’s maternal and child mortalities, which are the second highest globally.

She is among the 26 million child brides in Nigeria, according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) data.

The ICIR reports that child marriage is one of the abuses children face in Nigeria, and the challenge is not limited to Niger State alone.

Thirty-four of Nigeria’s 36 states, including Niger, have domesticated the Federal Government’s 2003 Child Rights Act enacted to protect children like Amina, but the trends in child brides in her state cast a shadow on the operationality of the Act.

The ICIR reports that child marriage breaches the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Nigeria is a signatory, and the fundamental human rights enshrined in Section Four (chapters 33-36, and 38-41) of the Nigerian Constitution (1999) as amended. 

With out-of-school children hovering around 20 million and 133 million people living in multi-dimensional poverty in Nigeria, tackling child marriage remains a huge task for any level of government in the country.

Amina was the only one who could speak pidgin English among all the four girls interviewed. 

“There are two reasons I didn’t like the man my parents chose for me. The first reason is that my father told me how he forced my sister into marriage. Every day, I see my sister and her husband fighting in their house located near our compound.” 

“I see my sister, who is already married off, every day. We live in the same neighbourhood. I don’t want to live this type of life. Even my mother, that was how her parents married her off to my father. They said that was how they would marry me off, and I resisted.”

Amina said she woke her mother every night, Kneeling and pleading that she let her choose the person to marry instead. She explained to her mother the kind of family she wanted, but the mother wouldn’t listen. 

“She always ignored my pleas. I cried every night. Nobody cared about how this affected my health. I was always left alone in a sad mood.”  

“Since I was born, I’d never begged anyone over anything as I pleaded with my mother not to force me into marriage. I continued to plead, and she insisted that I accept her decision. I later hardened my heart that I would never allow myself to be forced into marriage even if it requires that I die,” said Amina.

When it dawned on her that her marriage was inevitable, she presented four men from the village at different times as suitors, but her mother declined to endorse any of them.

Her siblings and extended relations ignored her pleas for help that would make her escape her mum’s decision. Whenever she needed anything in the house, her mother referred her to the man she wanted her to marry. This further compounded her troubles.

She became more miserable, watching her dream of becoming a medical doctor fly past her reach.  

She said of her wedding experience, “After I had severally resisted the marriage proposal by my family, they took me to one man called Iyakatu. They chained my legs. When the legs began to swell in the night, they removed the chain because of the swelling and took me straight outside in the night and poured water on my head.”

Pouring water on a girl’s child is a symbol of marriage among Nupe-speaking people, a predominant tribe in Niger state. It’s done at dawn in front of friends and family to signify she is now married. 

“They said they had already done the wedding for me to marry the person they chose. At 6:am, they prepared everything they would use for the wedding and brought the marriage dress to me. I wore the cloth and was sobbing.”

“I lived with the boy they married me to for 15 days but didn’t allow him to touch me. My parents always locked the man with me inside his room so he could have sex to enable me to become pregnant. They always locked the door with a padlock” Amina stated. 

She said after they had failed to force her to have sex with her husband, they bundled her to a man in Makagi village, Muhammadu Baba (poplary called Alhaji Makagi), in Agaie LGA in the state.

Two of the four girls interviewed said their parents took them to the man they described as very influential in the area. They claimed he had charms and possessed healing power. The state’s Child Rights Agency staff and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) corroborated the girls’ claim. 

According to many sources, the man hypnotises girls who refuse their parents’ marriage choices. Makagi village is about 40 kilometres from Agaie town, and Bida to Agaie is 37 kilometres.  Commuters spend hours on the highly dilapidated highways where articulated trucks fall off daily. 

Amina claimed she didn’t know how her husband found it very easy to have sex with her after returning from the man. “I didn’t even know the time he did it. I got to know about sex when I woke up the following morning. I was in the village for 15 days and escaped at night after fasting.” 

Amina fled into the bush at midnight and trekked for two hours before reaching another village belonging to the boy she had wanted to marry.

Days later, through a lawyer, she filed for a divorce at a Sharia court. The court separated her from the marriage and ordered that she return the bride price.

The court ruled that she can marry the man of her choice after observing her Iddah – the three months a divorced Muslim woman or widow observes before marrying another man.

During this investigation, she was observing the Iddah in the custody of Abubakar Mahmood, district head of Etsu Audu. 

Mahmood attested to the claim that the man in Makagi administered love potions and gave concoctions to girls rejecting marriage. He described the state’s high rate of child marriage as “worse than slavery.”

Balkisu Abubakar

A native of Ebugi, in Gbako LGA, Balkisu Abubakar had a boy in mind that she wanted to marry. Her father had called her severally before becoming a teenager and had wanted to know her plan for marriage. She had repeatedly told her dad about him.

Having a boyfriend at puberty is commonplace among many girls in the communities visited, which appears as a ploy to reject their parents’ choice for them in marriage so that they will have someone to present as soon as they are asked to get married. 

So, Balkisu was happy her dad did not object to her relationship with the boy she loved. However, that joy soon ebbed when her father told her he had someone else for her to marry. 

“Without my consent, my father collected gifts from the guy he wanted me to marry. They fixed a date for the marriage last year, and I told them I couldn’t marry him. They set another date for earlier this year. Ten days before the said date for my wedding, I left for the court in Lemu. I told the court the reason I came for its intervention.” 

“I asked the court to plead with my father not to force me to marry someone I didn’t love. The court summoned my family, and on getting to the court, they bribed their way through. The court asked me to go home with my family and obey my parents. All the marriage rites were carried out at the court with two police officers, and I was forcefully married to a guy I didn’t love.”

Balkisu’s travails had just begun with the forced marriage.  Her matter got to the head of the Etsu Audu community before it was reaching the man in Makagi. 

Balkisu Abubakar, one of the victims of forced child marriage in Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR
Balkisu Abubakar, one of the victims of forced child marriage in Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR

She said the man in Makagi made some incantations and sprinkled some substances on her, with six other people in his custody facing the same problem.

She also said he accused her of having a ‘dark mind’ and ordered her back to reunite with her husband. 

Balkisu’s parents eventually ejected her from their home when they noted she was unwilling to yield ground. 

She left the community and headed for the bush, where she stayed for some days in the mountains.  

“My parent started looking for me. After they found me, they took me to the village head of Edodzighi. I went to (a Sharia) court from the village head’s house. After narrating my ordeals, the court asked me what I wanted, and I told the judge that I was not interested in the marriage between me and the person I was forced to marry because I didn’t love him.” 

“I also told the court that if it didn’t separate me and the man, I might end up killing him, or he might end up killing me. After terminating the marriage, the court ordered me to bring the guy I love. I refunded all the money I had collected from the man.”

Balkisu has since remained in the custody of the village head in Edodzighi.

 Amina Idris

Amina Idris has become a household name in her community Edogi-Jima, Lavun LGA, since she absconded from her husband’s home several weeks ago. 

She is the boldest among the victims interviewed by The ICIR. She had run a flourishing shea butter business and other commodities before her parents forced her into a marriage.

Her story is interesting because a Sharia court judge, Mohammed Mohammed, from her family, supports her marriage, despite being allegedly forced into it.

The judge has purportedly threatened an official of the state’s Child Rights Agency, Mariam Abdulmalik, who kept the girl in custody after she fled her husband’s home.

While Amina’s father is late, her mother is alive. The mother divorced her father when the girl was very young. The mother now has five other children for the husband she later married.

Amina lived with her husband, Usman Haruna, with whom she was married in May, for 13 days. 

According to Abdulmalik, the girl slept in the bush for two nights before finding her way to the Child Rights office. The office treats at least 100 cases of girl-child forced marriage yearly. 

Amina Idris, one of the girls forced into marriage in Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR
Amina Idris, one of the girls forced into marriage in Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR

Amina wants an end to her marriage to Haruna. “I am not interested in getting married to the boy. I can’t even stand close to him because I don’t love him.” 

Days after her people forced her into marriage, Amina lied to her husband that she wanted to collect a contribution in faraway Bida town and pleaded that the husband rides her to the bustling town on a motorcycle. Haruna agreed, and the couple set for the journey.

Amina alighted from the motorcycle and told her husband to wait, pretending to collect her money from a compound facing her. She escaped through the backyard and eventually found her way to the Child Rights Protection Agency.

She was in the agency’s custody when she was interviewed for this report. But Abdulmalik (the agency’s Desk Officer keeping her) said on Wednesday, July 25, that a Sharia Court ruled that she return to her husband and has obeyed the court.

Hajara Mohammed

The story of Hajara also epitomises the magnitude and challenges of child marriage in the state. Hajara said her planned forced marriage caused her mother’s death.

From birth, her father and mother had different men for her to marry. The parents refused to agree on who she would marry. The matter dragged on for some years, and the mother took ill. The husband allegedly abandoned his wife till she died. 

Hajara couldn’t bear the pain of her mother’s loss and insisted on rejecting her father’s choice for her marriage.

The wedding eventually took place. But days after the wedding, she ran to the vigilantes in Bida for support, and they led her to the Child Rights Protection Agency in the town. 

She remained in the agency’s custody until her brother took her away, promising they would visit her grandmother in Kwara state. She left her luggage behind. 

Hajara Mohammed, one of the girls forced into marriage in Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR
Hajara Mohammed, one of the girls forced into marriage in Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR

That was the last time the agency heard from her. One of The ICIR sources located Hajara on Tuesday, July 18, at Gara village, Gbako LGA, in the custody of a woman. Her brother dumped her there allegedly as part of his family’s efforts to compel her to accept the man his father chose for her. 

Hajara no longer had access to her phone. “They removed my SIM card from my phone, and I can’t call anybody anymore,” she told the source.

“I’ve told them I would not marry the man even before my mother died. That’s the reason I ran away. It was the frustration of my marriage that killed my mother. After my mother’s death, I was forced into the village to stay with my husband.” 

“Though they succeeded in forcing me, I didn’t allow the man to have sex with me throughout the period I was with him. They held my hands and legs to make the man rape me. But I didn’t become pregnant for him. I refused to accept the marriage because I didn’t love the man.”

On Saturday, July 22, The ICIR learnt that her family forced her to settle with the man she was forced to marry. However, in a twist of events, Hajara escaped the marriage days later and fled to Abuja on Friday, July 28.

Makagi, victims’ families react

During these findings, the CDHR petitioned the Area Commander, Bida Police Area Command, Abiodun Bakare-Apanpa, a lawyer, over the Makagi man’s alleged activities, as The ICIR  planned to visit him.

The CDHR requested that the Commander provide some officers to lead the crew to the community. Responding, the Commander directed the team to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Agaie Divisional Police Headquarters, Abubakar Yahaya, through a letter. 

The journey to Makagi from Bida began at 1 p.m. The team eventually got to the community at 6:30 p.m., accompanied by police officers from Agaie. Residents said the man travelled for Hajj and was yet to return home.

However, Abubakar Aliu, one of Alhaji Makaji’s assistants, who spoke to The ICIR denied all allegations against his principal.

Abubakar Aliu, Makagi’s asistant. Photo credit: The ICIR

He explained that the man only treated sick people and had been in business for over 25 years.

“If you are not feeling fine or bring someone sick, he will help you. But any problem that has to do with marriage issues, he doesn’t have a hand in it. Even if you come to him about it, he doesn’t pay listening ears. I can swear with the holy Quran on that,” he said. 

The crew left the community at 7:00 p.m. and returned to Bida at 11:00 p.m. 

The team met the victims’ families in their villages, except Balkisu Abubakar. The bridge linking her village, Ebugi, Gbako LGA, has reportedly collapsed.

Mohammed Mohammed – Hajara’s father regrets marriage

We met Hajara’s father, Mohammed Mohammed, at Lenfa-Boro, Edati LGA. He regretted giving her child out in marriage and the embarrassment her rejection of the wedding had caused his family.

He blamed his action on his inability to enrol his children in school. Apart from Hajara, he had five other children from Hajara’s mother before she died. They are four boys and a girl – Hajara’s younger sister. 

Hajara’s father, Mohammed Mohammed.Photo credit: The ICIR

He did not know Hajara’s age but said he married her mother at a much older age than Hajara.

Mohammed promised to support Hajara to learn a vocational skill if she could return home.

The man, who is in his sixties, said he may marry three more wives when asked if he was considering remarrying after his only wife’s death.

Amina disappoints my family –  Abubakar Tauhid

Tauhid (earlier named as Amina’s uncle) told The ICIR crew while other villagers were protesting outside the compound of the village head of Saganuwan-Kulla, that his niece, Amina, disappointed the family by rejecting her marriage.

He said even though she initially rejected the marriage, she later agreed to it after interventions by people she respected.  

Abubakar Tauhid, Amina uncle. Photo credit: The ICIR

He accused the girl of collecting gifts from her husband and fleeing his home thereafter.

Given the villagers’ attitude towards our reporters, we report that it could be dangerous for Amina to come to the village for whatever reason for now.

The villagers claimed a ‘rich man’ that Amina planned to marry hired our reporters to put them “on the internet.”

Amina Idris brought shame to our family – Adamu Ndagi 

Adamu Ndagi is the Chief Imam of Edogi-Jima village, Lavun LGA, where Amina hails from.

He spoke for his family alongside Mohammed Mohammed, a Sharia court judge, who is also from the family.

Ndagi said the girl embarrassed his family twice. The first was how she disappeared from her wedding venue before she resettled with her husband, and the other was how she eventually abandoned the marriage.

He accused the girl of collecting money from her husband and still dumping him.

“According to Islam, if you have a daughter who has reached 15 years, she’s matured. If a boy reaches 14 years, he’s matured,” he stated as he expressed hope that Aminu would return home.

Similarly, the judge frowned at Amina’s attitude. He argued repeatedly that the girl consented to the wedding.

He blamed Amina, alleging she didn’t speak against the wedding but collected gifts from her husband.

Mohammed Mohammed, Sharia Court judge and Amina’s uncle. Photo credit: The ICIR

He said God forbids forced marriage, and he would not support it.

“If Islam says 15 years, and the marriage is conducted when she is 19 or 20, there is nothing wrong with that. Even in the constitution of Nigeria, it’s not wrong.”

“It is a mere marriage proposal. Even if done at age 13, it is not bad in Islam. Proposing is not marriage. There is a difference between proposing and conducting marriage. It’s a different issue. I can propose to 10 or 15 years old and conduct my marriage after 15 years.” 

“There is nothing bad there in Islam,” the judge stated.

However, Amina’s husband, Usman Haruna, said he had been sad since his wife disappeared. He was eager to see his wife back while speaking with The ICIR crew. 

Amina’s mother refuses to talk about her daughter’s wedding

The ICIR located Amina’s mother, Ramotu Haruna, at Zhigichi community in Lavun LGA. She declined to speak but cried profusely for nearly 30 minutes.

Ramotu Haruna, Amina Idris’ mother. Photo credit: The ICIR

The ICIR crew linked her to the agency where her daughter was taken refuge in Bida. She was at the Child Rights Protection Agency by 9 a.m. the next day, accompanied by her new husband. Despite beaming with a smile after seeing her daughter, all the woman said was that she collected N20,000 for Amina’s wedding.

She denied giving her daughter out in marriage. “Her father’s family married her to a husband, not me,” she said.

Underage marriage causes 70 per cent of maternal, child deaths in LGA – PHC Director

The Director of Primary Health Care, Bida LGA, Amina Manko Yahaya, said complications from under-aged pregnancies accounted for 70 per cent of maternal and child mortality in the LGA. 

She decried the high rate of child marriage in the area and called on stakeholders to stop the trend.

“Being the director, I was once in the facility, and I’ve witnessed many things like when the lady is pregnant, you never see her coming for antenatal. When she doesn’t come for antenatal, it is a problem because you never detect anything pre (natal). There’s no counselling. She will be hiding somewhere. Nobody will see her. The parents will encourage her to hide so nobody knows she’s pregnant.” 

“By the time she enters labour, if she does not deliver within certain hours, the parents will bring her to the clinic. It will be already late when they bring her to the clinic. Maybe she already had prolonged labour. During this prolonged labour, the baby can die in her womb.”

Yahaya explained that the cervix of under-aged girls in labour is too small that even when there is a contraction during labour, the cervix would not dilate because all her system is too small for her baby to come out. 

Amina Manko Yahaya, Director, Primary Health Care, Bida Local Government Area, Niger State. Photo credit: The ICIR

“If you’re not careful, the baby is even bigger than her pelvis. You cannot detect anything because she didn’t come for antenatal.”

She narrated the story of a nine-year-old married to her neighbour, who developed Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) caused by labour.

Marrying off underage is wrong – Hisbah leader

The Commandant, Niger State Hisbah Commission, Bida Emirate Unit, Shuaib Muhammad Ndeji, condemned the high rate of girl-child marriage in the state.

He said his organisation handled many child bride cases. 

“Many people are misbehaving, leaving Islamic provisions and turning them upside down. This is very wrong. The Prophet said, ‘Marry and reproduce that I should be proud of you.’ We should marry and reproduce so that Prophet Muhammed will be proud of us on the day of judgement.” 

“He should be proud before other prophets that he has the highest population, bigger than that of Abraham, Jacob, Moses etc. The Prophet also said, ‘Marry from those you love, the girls, the women you love and love you. If you want to marry, start from two, three or four. Don’t exceed four. But if you cannot maintain, reverse to one for justice.”

Commandant, Niger State Hisbah, Bida Emirate, Shuaib Muhammad Ndeji. Photo credit: The ICIR

He explained further that neither the Quran nor Bible recommends forced marriage, adding that his office received several such girls coming to complain.

He said many women quit their marriages because of a lack of love. The commandant averred that the practice is common in the villages more than in the city. 

He also said all children should receive formal education and at least complete secondary education before considering marriage.

Parents give out girls days after birth – former LG chairman

The former chairman of Bida LGA, Bako Ndaawo, is one of the people who said parents give out their girls shortly after birth, and the parents do so to enable them to obtain gifts or a similar offer from their would-be in-laws.

Bako Ndaawo, former Chairman, Bida Local Government Area, Niger State.Photo credit: The ICIR

“By the time they start growing up, they see that the child is trying to be wise, they will say if they don’t fast-track the marriage, by the time she becomes a full grown-up child, she may decide not to marry that man again. They will try to bring them together.”

He added that parents could give their girl to a man they think is buoyant enough to be husband to their daughter. He said they would collect huge amounts of money without the children’s consent. 

We always receive cases of child marriage – Emir’s Palace

The ICIR crew visited the Bida Emir’s Palace and discovered it was familiar with the trend. The palace said it always received cases of child marriage. 

Abubakar Mohammed, personal assistant to the Emir, Yahaya Abubakar, heads the Emir’s office dealing with child marriage issues. 

He spoke on behalf of the Emir who was in Saudi Arabia for Hajj.   

Abubakar Muhammad, Rep. Bida Emir, Yahaya Abubakar. The ICIR

“We are here day and night, receiving many cases from the parents and girls regarding forced marriage. But we have many challenges. Sometimes, the fault comes from the girls and the parents,” he said.

He cautioned that the world was changing fast, and it would be wicked for any parent to offer a child for marriage before clocking 18, after which he said the child might have completed at least secondary education. 

Islam forbids forced marriage – Lawyer

A lawyer in Bida, Muhammad Rabiu, who has practised for decades, explained how difficult it could be for a girl forced into a marriage to divorce. She will find at least two male witnesses of impeccable character to testify before a court that her parents married her out by force. 

She must also refund all the money her husband spent on her.  

Rabiu said Islamically, it was not wrong for a child to marry at puberty, but in contemporary society, every child must acquire knowledge to enable them to cope well in marriage.

Barrister Muhammad N. Rabiu. Photo credit: The ICIR

He slammed scholars he said were misinterpreting the Quran and claiming that parents could give their daughters to any man they like without consulting them.

Stressing when a Muslim child could marry, the lawyer stated, “We don’t have a fixed date for the age of maturity in Islam. The moment a child attains maturity, and maturity in Islam, if a lady or a girl, is when she begins to menstruate. She has reached the age of maturity that she can be married out, unlike the common law that says until you reach 18.

“Similarly, a boy attains the age of maturity when sometimes they say he has started having hair in his groin, beard, armpit, etc. It is not necessarily 18 years of age. What is most important is that she must be able to know what is right and wrong.”

We receive over 100 child marriage cases yearly in Bida Emirate – official

Bida office of the Niger State Child Rights Protection Agency receives a case of forced child marriage almost daily, said its Desk Officer, Mariam Abdulmalik.

Abdulmalik has supported child brides and accommodated them at her expense on the advice of community leaders.

“We have been having a lot of cases of child brides. It’s been happening frequently that I can say almost every day, we have a case. You see parents forcing an underage girl to marry a man she doesn’t love.” 

Mariam Abdulmalik, Desk Officer, Child Rights Protection Agency, Bida office. Photo credit: The ICIR

“Parents take their daughters to herbalists to give them concoctions so they will accept the parents’ choice in marriage. There are some villages where you will see a room filled with snakes that they will drop a child inside to compel her to marry the man they chose for her who she doesn’t love.”

Abdulmalik has several files bearing different names of victims of child marriage on her table.

She said when girls refuse their parent’s marriage offer, the parents will stand their ground. Her office’s role in such a matter is to refer the case to court.

But marriage litigations attract much spending, which she said her office or the victims could not afford.

She confirmed that child marriage was more common in villages than in major towns such as Bida because children in towns go to school and parents are better enlightened.

“You will see a newly-born baby, from two to three months, the parents will announce that they have engaged her to somebody who will marry her. Even if the parents are not alive, they will say what the parents said before they died will stand. Even if she doesn’t want to marry, she must marry the person they chose for her from childhood. They don’t want their children to be educated so that this thing can continue. They see education as something that will not let the children listen to them.”

She said her officials were going around communities sensitising people against the practice.

Abdulmalik stated that education and continued sensitisation are the way out of the problem.

Child Rights Protection Agency headquarters declines interview, summons Bida staff 

The Director-General of the Niger State Child Rights Protection Agency, Mairam Kolo, was said to have travelled for Hajj.

She allegedly handed over to Suleiman Shehu, a senior official in the agency.

One of our reporters called Shehu on Tuesday, July 18, requesting an interview with him on Wednesday, July 19.

The request followed a message sent to him through his official in Bida two days earlier.

He turned down the interview, claiming he had to seek approval from the state governor.

During his conversation with the reporter on the phone, he said child marriage was prevalent in the state. He said he treated six cases in his office that day.

Displeased with how its Bida officials provided information to support this investigation, the agency summoned its three officials in the town to report to Minna, its headquarters, in what is suspected to be an invitation to punish them. 

We’re inundated with child bride cases – CDHR

The Niger state CDHR chairman, Abdulkadir Tukur Muhammed, said since his office was inaugurated two years ago, it had been inundated with child marriage cases.

“We have girls who have run away from home for weeks, living inside the bush and trying to come out from their villages to town for assistance,” he stated. 

Abdulkadir Tukur Muhammed, Chairman, CDHR, Niger State chapter

He opined that attributing child marriage to Islamic tenets was wrong. 

Muhammed explained that girls fear marriage offers because of what their fathers do to their mothers at home.

“Poverty is a major cause of this practice. They also don’t want their girls to be far from them, so they will use her for farming. It is the girls that usually harvest crops from the farm. They have that kind of belief. When one of the parents has a problem and goes to another man in the village, he will collect money from the man and offer his daughter in exchange for the money.”

“The only way to solve this problem in the state is through education and serious sensitisation across the communities,” he noted. 

We report that the high point of this investigation was when we brought the two Aminas and Balkisu together in Bida. They were happy sharing their experiences and felt like never leaving one another again. They pledged to be advocates against child marriage.

Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @

Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email:

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