Mass wedding plans for Nigerian orphans spark outrage

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A planned mass wedding of 100 orphans in Nigeria has been cancelled due to concerns about the welfare of the participants.

The wedding, which was sponsored by Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the speaker of the national assembly in Niger state, was set to take place at the end of the month. The orphans involved had lost family members in attacks by armed gangs.

Critics raised concerns that some of the girls may be underage or being coerced into the marriage for financial gain. Despite these concerns, the Imams Forum of Niger insisted that the marriage ceremony would proceed as planned on 24 May and maintained that the girls were not underage.

The exact ages of the girls were not disclosed, prompting Nigeria’s Women’s Affairs Minister, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, to denounce the event and announce her intention to seek a court injunction to halt the ceremony. Human rights activists in Nigeria have also launched a petition to stop the mass wedding.

In response to the public outcry, Speaker Sarkindaji has since withdrawn from the ceremony. However, some of the intended brides defended the program when speaking to local media outlets. Mass weddings are not uncommon in northern Nigeria, particularly in Muslim-majority areas where cultural and religious practices like polygamy support the tradition.


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