Mass weddings are fairly common in northern Nigeria
Mass weddings are fairly common in northern Nigeria

Mass wedding plans for Nigerian orphans spark outrage

A planned mass wedding of 100 orphans in Nigeria has sparked widespread public outrage over concerns about the welfare of those involved.

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The wedding, set for the end of this month, was sponsored by Abdulmalik Sarkindaji, the speaker of the national assembly in the largely Muslim north-western state of Niger.

It involved orphans who had lost family members during attacks by armed gangs.

Critics have expressed concern that some girls may be underage or being forced to comply for financial gain.

Nigeria's Women's Affairs Minister Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye condemned the plan and said she would seek a court injunction to stop the ceremony.

Human rights activists in Nigeria have also launched a petition to stop the plan.

Following the public outrage, Speaker Sarkindaji has announced his withdrawal from the ceremony.

But the Imams Forum of Niger say the marriage ceremony should go ahead on 24 May, insisting that the girls are not underage.

The ages of the girls were not immediately known.

Some intended brides, who spoke to the local media, defended the programme.

Mass weddings are fairly common in mostly Muslim parts of northern Nigeria, where religious and cultural norms such as polygamy favour the practice.

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