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BREAKING: Imams Vow to Go Ahead With Niger Mass Wedding, warn Minister

Niger State Imam Forum made up of Chief Imams of Friday Mosques in the state and Islamic Organizations have vowed to go ahead with the wedding of 100 orphans in Mariga Local Government Area.

The event was scheduled to hold on May 24, 2024, but Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Barrister Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, had withdrawn his support for the wedding involving the orphans from his constituency.

The speaker withdrew his support after the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, raised concerns about the legality of the wedding, asking whether the girls’ consent and age for marriage, as defined by the law including the Child Rights Act, were ensured.

But the Forum said the wedding would go on because it did did not contravene the sections of the Nigerian constitution and teachings of Islam.

Director General, Niger state Religious Affairs, Dr Umar Farouk, who read out the resolutions of the forum’s emergency meeting in Minna, the state capital, on Wednesday, gave the Minister a 7-day ultimatum to withdraw her court case and petition against the Speaker of the Niger Assembly, or face legal action.

The forum also asked her to apologise to the citizens of Niger and the speaker over alleged blackmailing.

Farouk said the May 24, 2024 fixed for the wedding was sacrosanct, adding that the Imam Forum in conjunction with the parents of the brides will go ahead with the ceremony since the speaker had done his part by donating to ensure the success of the wedding.

Dr Farouk called on President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to sack the Minister for alleged incompetence and an attempt to cause religious disharmony in Nigeria.

He called on other philanthropists, well to do individuals and politicians to emulate the speaker to conduct similar marriages as part of measures to sanitize the society, saying that the girls about to be wed were between the ages of 18 and 25, including widows.

He said the consent of the intending brides were sought and all necessary procedures were followed.