Plan to Sponsor mass marriage of 100 poor orphan girls abuse of fundamental rights – FIDA fumes

…Distances itself from the unauthorized Press Release purportedly issued by the Chairperson and Secretary of its Niger State branch

By Chris Udochukwu

ABUJA – The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria has described as ill-advised and abuse of fundamental human rights, the plans of the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, to sponsor a mass marriage of 100 poor orphan girls whose parents were lost to banditry attacks in Maringa Local Government Area, Niger State.

This is also as the FIDA Nigeria clearly distanced itself from the unauthorized Press Release purportedly issued by the Chairperson and Secretary of its Niger State branch. It firmly place on record that as a non-partisan, non-religious and non-cultural organization, it shall continue to discharge its mandate of protecting, promoting and preserving the rights and interests of women and children without cowering to any political expediency.

According to the statement signed by the Country Vice/National President FIDA Nigeria, Amina Suzanah Agbaje Mrs made available to Precise Post, while marriage is noble, and any humanitarian gesture that seeks to support or promote the noble institution is commendable, such acts or intentions must be in compliance with due respect for the fundamental rights of either or both parties to the planned union.

The case of these poor orphans becomes even more delicate and deserves the utmost sensibility and responsibility in devising altruistic gestures that preserve and protect their constitutional rights to compulsory education and respect for the dignity of their persons. The offer of sponsorship of a mass marriage in this instance smacks of poor observance of any respect for the dignity of the young girls, and may pose a threat that hampers their right to compulsory education or acquisition of other vital vocational or professional skills that are necessary to equip them in leading dignified, purposeful, resourceful and fulfilling lives.

FIDA Nigeria heartily commends the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Hon. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, for her prompt intervention in condemning the plans and also commend the grant of an injuction by the Federal High Court, Niger State, against the ill-contrived mass-marriage plans. This twin developments will greatly serve in bolstering the confidence of the citizenry in the sincerity of government, and the readiness of the court to wield its powers, towards protecting and upholding the rights of vulnerable Nigerians.

Though the wise step of the Rt. Hon. Speaker in heeding good counsel by rescinding the mass marriage sponsorship plan is noted, it is hoped that this sad episode serves to advise public office holders, and the general public, on vital informed considerations that should guide any actions or intentions on matters that affect the rights and wellbeing of children and vulnerable persons.

It is hoped that the resolved plans by the Honourable Minister and the Honourable Speaker to collaborate towards empowering the young girls is followed through and FIDA Nigeria will be monitoring to observe developments in this regard.

This episode reiterates the importance of our collective duty to hold all persons in positions of trust to accountability, and how such efforts yield gradual successes that ultimately contribute to building a future that meets our aspirations. Kudos to all persons of good conscience who have lent a voice to the respect and protection of the vulnerable, who like everyone else, is entitled to a life of dignity.

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