CSO asks Niger Speaker to rescind planned marriage for 100 female orphans

A Civil Society Organization, Take it Back Movement, has called on the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, to rescind his decision to marry off 100 female orphans in the state. 

This follows a report by The ICIR that the Speaker is set to marry off the female orphans to the grooms selected for them in a marriage scheduled for May 24.

In a statement signed by its Head of the Gender Department, Omolola Pedro, the Take It Back movement condemned the Speaker’s action and called for sustainable investment in women and girls.

Part of the statement reads, “It is worrisome that girl children who have lost their parents to banditry in the state are about to be ’empowered’ by being married off like some tubers of yam. Mr. Speaker has some explanations to do, about his definition of empowerment.

“One would expect that the Niger State government will compensate these girls for the unfortunate loss of their parents, leaving them to live lives alone, a result of the incompetence of the government in tackling insecurity, by providing them with education and opportunities capable of turning their lives around, but rather chose the easy way out to marry them off, a very insensitive, and careless decision.”

The organisation called on the state government to prioritise tackling the scourge of out-of-school and how it affects female children rather than giving them out for marriage.

“Child marriage remains prevalent in Nigeria because the federal and state governments have not adequately enforced laws to prevent it, such that a Speaker of an Assembly is emboldened to identify it as a worthy constitutional project,” it added.

The movement expressed dissatisfaction over how Nigerian girls are still being forced into child marriages despite the Child Rights Act.

The movement therefore called on the Speaker to “terminate the plans to marry these girls off and see to their education and equip them with sustainable life skills.”

In 2023, The ICIR reported rampant practice of forced child marriage in Niger State. The report covered the Bida Emirate of the state.

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It detailed how young girls in the Emirate were tortured while resisting marriage. The girls were hypnotised by a prominent herbal doctor, scolded by relations, forced to marry in court, fled to the bush and allegedly lived in the mountains for days to escape being compelled to wed.




     

     

    The girls’ parents also shared their views in the report. While some regretted the actions, others condemned their girls for rejecting their decision and going against tradition and the prevalent Islamic religion in the state.

    In 2021, a report by Save the Children International revealed that about 78 per cent of girls in Northern Nigeria were victims of forced child marriage.

    The report showed that Nigeria had one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

    Even though the Niger State Speaker admitted that the brides were carefully selected for the planned wedding, it remains unclear whether they consented to it.

    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in society. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

    Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

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