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Niger Assembly worries over youth restiveness in the state

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***Summons Heads of Security agencies to appear before it

The Niger State House of Assembly has expressed grave concern over what it described as the return of youth restiveness in Minna the state capital as it called for a decisive action against the perpetrators.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly Rt Hon Abdulmalik Sarkindaji stated this on Wednesday when he addressed the house at its plenary after i
resumption from one month recess for the Easter and the Sallah celebrations.
Sarkindaji said the return of youth restiveness to the state, especially Minna the state capital is capable of eroding all the gains so far recorded by the present administration in the area of security and the maintenance of law and order.
Although the speaker commended the Governor Umar Mohammed Bago and the various security agencies for the prompt actions taken so far to tame the situation, he expressed the need for a decisive action against the perpetrators and their sponsors.
The speaker specifically pointed out that the action of the miscreants could discourage the legion of investors that are already besieging the state due to the friendly atmosphere provided by the present administration.
He disclosed that the law against thuggery in the state must be immediately revisited by the state assembly in order to empower the security agencies to deal more decisively against the perpetrators.
“As the representatives of people, we can not fold our hands and allow this present youth restiveness go out of hand. “We will immediately revisit the law against all forms of thuggery in the state so as to empower the security agencies to deal with the situation”, he said.
The house therefore resolved to summon all the heads security agencies and other relevant stakeholders in the state to meet with the assembly on Monday to brief the members on the current situation and the possible way out.
Consequently a motion on matter of urgent public importance brought by the Chairman house committee on security and intelligence, Hon Joseph Haruna Duza representing Munya Constituency which called on the government to address the menace of frequent youth restiveness in the state was stepped down until all the heads of security agencies appeared before it.
It would be recalled that youths in some parts of Minna, the state capital went on rampage and seized some major roads and unleashed terror on innocent residents in Sallah day.
Three people were reportedly killed and several injured while property worth hundreds of thousands of naira were either looted or destroyed by the rampaging youths.
However worried by this development, the state Governor Rt Hon Umar Mohammed Bago ordered security agents to shoot at sight any miscreant found to be disturbing the peace of the state, saying that his administration has zero tolerance for any form of violence or criminal activities.

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News from Niger State

Women Affairs Minister empowere 100 brides with 10 POS Machines, Wrappers, bags of rice

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***As Governor Bago donates 100 sowing machines, cash to the Brides

The Minister of women affairs, Mrs. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye has given 10 Points of Service (POS) Machines to the 100 Brides from Mariga local government area of Niger State whose mass wedding is being supported by Speaker of the State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Abdulmalik Sarkindaji.
The minister announced the empowerment scheme on Wednesday at the palace of the Emir of Kontagora, Alhaji Mohammed Barau Muazu with all the 100 intending Brides in attendance.
Other empowerment schemes according to the minister includes 350 bags of 10kg rice, 100 wrappers and a promise of scholarship to University level for those willing to go back to school.
Mrs. Uju who was represented by her Special Assistant on private sector, Engineer Adaji Usman also directed that bank account be open for all the 100 intending Brides where a stipend will be sent to them for the next six months to enable them settle down in their husband houses.
The minister blamed the media for escalating the initial controversy surrounding the marriage of the 100 girls, saying that she did not intend to stop the marriage but to be sure if the girls are of marriageable age and are not being forced into it.
According to her every parent will want to marry out their wards if they attain the right age for marriage, adding that her initial opposition to the planned marriage was misunderstood, hence the media war between her office and the speaker, as she expressed gratitude to the speaker for his maturity in handling issue through the traditional institution in the state.
She promised that the girls will be closely monitored in their various husband houses so that the objectives of the empowerment scheme will not be defeated, adding that “the ministry will follow this up with skill acquisitions on their trade of interest to further empower them.
In his remarks at the occasion the speaker, RT Hon Abdulmalik Sarkindaji revealed that the entire drama over his intention to support the marriage of the 100, mostly orphans, was politically motivated adding that “it was pure politics from my Constituency. They misinformed the minister that I am playing politics with the lives of the children by forcing them into marriage.
“And the minister, because of her passion for women and the girl child quickly waded into the matter even though she did not get to know the true position of the things and the media amplified the whole matter.
“But thank God today I have been vindicated, the minister and the whole world have seen that these girls are of marriageable age and nobody is forcing them into it. It is being done through their consents.
“I decided to support the marriage out of geninue concern for these girls majority of whom are orphans as a result of insecurity in my Constituency. It was with a pure heart.
“I equally commend the minister for this empowerment scheme for the girls, she has shown that she is a mother and really meant well for the girl child in this country”.
Sarkindaji pointed out that he will continue to do his best for the good of the people of his Constituency, stressing that “I Will not be deterred by the dirty politics anybody wants to play. The welfare and the well-being of my people is my primary responsibility and I will not shy away from it.
“Those who need this assistance to enable them settle down are over 100 but I just picked these ones because that is what my resources can take for now but in no distance time we will come up with a comprehensive plan for the remaining ones and this will be done in conjunction with the ministry for women affairs and other critical stakeholders to avoid this ugly experience”.
Also speaking the Emir, Alhaji Mohammed Barau Muazu thanked God for the peaceful resolution of the matter that had unsettled the Emirate in the last two weeks, saying “the whole drama was as a result of misunderstanding and lack of communication”.
The Emir thanked the minister for the empowerment scheme rolled out for the girls and assured her that it will be utilized for the purpose they were given.
He equally thanked the state governor for his leadership role in handling the matter and his contributions towards the empowerment of the Brides.
The Emir disclosed that all the necessary medical tests, including HIV/AIDS, Genotype, Hepatitis B and pregnancy were conducted and the results handed over to the representatives of the minister.

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News from Niger State

Forum of Imams issues ultimatum for Ohannaya to withdraw threats over mass wedding

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***As cash, material donations pour in for the intending couples

The controversy surrounding the planned mass wedding of 200 girls in Niger state has taken another twist as the Council of Imams in the State has waded in giving Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Ohannaya, one-week ultimatum to withdraw her comments against the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Abdulmalik Sarkindaji.
The speaker had consulted over his intention to sponsor the marriage of 100 girls in his Constituency for which he had the blessings of the traditional and the religious leaders
The secretary of the Imams Forum in the state, Dr. Umar Abdullahi, issued the warning while addressing journalists in Minna the state capital on Wednesday.
He said that the Minister has overstepped her boundary, and the Forum will not take it lightly as her comments are capable of causing crisis in the state and the country in general.
Recall that the Speaker of the State House of Assembly had taken the responsibility to sponsor the marriage of about 100 of the girls from his Constituency in Mariga local government area of the state.
The girls were said to have lost their parents on account of banditry in the area hence many became orphans and have no parents to foot the bill of the marriage expenses
However, the Minister dragged the Speaker to court, urging him to halt the planned wedding, alleging that the girls were being married off against their will.
But the Iman forum while addressing journalists warned the minister to stay clear from religious and cultural matters and face her ministerial assignment, insisting that no amount of court action will stop the marriage from taking place as planned for 24th of this month.
The forum threatened the minister to stand off warning her that the entire Imam’s forum in the state and the country in general to contend with if she failed to withdraw her comments on the matter and stay clear from the planned marriage which according to them has the blessing of the religious and traditional leaders of the state.
“The planned marriage has the blessing of all the religious and traditional leaders from the area. The sponsor of the marriage consulted widely before accepting to take the responsibility and we are strongly behind him.
“The girls are not under age and they are not being forced into marriage as the minister has made the public to believe. This is what the minister failed to investigate”, the forum added.
The forum therefore urged all other well to do individuals in the society to emulate the kind gesture of the speaker and render similar assistance to other intending couple in the area.
Meanwhile individual and political office holders from within and outside the state have continued to identify with the marriage as cash and material donations have continue to pour in for the success of the mass wedding.
A source close to the community told our correspondent in confidence that not less than N10million cash have been received as donations towards the marriage while an individual has donated N100,000 to each of the girls to enable them start something after the wedding as a way of empowering them.
“People from within and outside the state have continued to donate towards the wedding, and I can tell you that so far over N10million has been received and more people have pledged to support the wedding”, our source added.

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News from Niger State

Vatsa tells Women Affairs Minister, she is fighting a lost battle over marriage of 100 girls

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**Says the marriage will go ahead as planned

Former commissioner for Information Culture and Tourism and Chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Niger state Mr. Jonathan Vatsa has advised the minister for women affairs, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye to distance herself from the sesibilities of the people as it relates to religion and culture
This is coming following the controversy over the planned sponsorship of the wedding of 100 girls in Mariga local government area of Niger State by speaker of the state assembly, Rt. Hon. Abdulmalik Sarkindaji.
The Minister had threatened legal action over the issue which is not within her purview

Vatsa said the minister is fighting a lost battle as the parents of the girls will go ahead and marry out their daughters as planned whether the speaker is involved or not, saying that the parents have the right to do so under Islamic and Hausa tradition.
The chieftain of APC reacted to the issue while briefing newsmen in Minna on Wednesday.
The former publicity secretary of APC in the state advised the minister not go into issues that she knows nothing about, stressing that “no amount of threats of court action can stop the parents from giving out their daughters in marriage after receiving the necessary supports”.
Rather than sitting in Abuja and be issuing threat of court action, Vatsa pointed out that “the minister should have done her investigation first to know if these girls have strained the age of marriage by law or if they were being forced into the marriage before going to the air to threaten the speaker who is merely offering assistance.
“You cannot just sit in an air conditioned office in Abuja and be threatening people without knowing what these orphans are going through after loosing their parents to insecurity and those whose parents cannot afford their marriage expenses even though they have attained the age for marriage.
“Does the minister have any plans for people whom she has never seen nor know their plight or is she trying to encourage prostitution in the area.
“You don’t play politics by interfering with the people’s culture and tradition moreso that these girls have suitors who want to marry them”
According to Vatsa, “as members of one political party, I had expected the minister to get in touch with the speaker and get first hand information about the whole thing and offer her advise where necessary instead of playing to the gallery and going to media to issue threats of court action.
“I am sure the speaker being a trained lawyer is not afraid of going to court. The speaker is not giving the girls out in marriage but just rendering support to the families and there is no law in Nigeria that forbid someone giving an assistance towards marriage, that is why I said the minister is fighting a lost battle”.
Vatsa disclosed that the Banditry activities across 12 local government areas of the state has produced over 5,000 orphans, widows and widowers in the state and therefore urged the minister to come to Niger state and see the sufferings of these orphans, majority of whom are girls.
He stated further that as Special Adviser on PPP to the governor, he will be happy to see the minister going beyond issuing threats of court action over marriage of these girls, and come to partner with the state government on how to empower these group of people and other vulnerable children in the state.
Vatsa therefore urged the speaker not to succumb to any threats from any quota to abandoned his people, stressing “the people will feel disappointed if you withdraw your support for them. There is a difference between supporting a marriage and giving out a girl in marriage.”
He maintained that the speaker will let his people down if he decides to back out of the whole marriage plan, adding that the welfare of his people is his primary responsibility as their representative and therefore he should be ready to sink with them.

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