Northern Nigeria’s paedophilic mass weddings

You are currently viewing Northern Nigeria’s paedophilic mass weddings

===   By Suyi Ayodele   ===

  “Could you please, possibly, perhaps, send me to Kano?” I told my editor last Wednesday. “You will meet me there” was his response. I laughed. A moment later, a friend added his voice: “Why did the Kano government do such a thing under the table? They should have called for an expression of interest.” We laughed again. I further suggested that the Kano State correspondent “should be penalised for concealing the info!” A friend extended the penalty: “Very well. His Bureau Chief too.” The Bureau Chief came begging: “Oga mi sir. I am sorry sir. Help me appeal to them sir.” We all laughed.

In my place, they say when a matter goes beyond weeping, one is encouraged to laugh. That is exactly what we did that Wednesday morning.

Our laughter was about a news item by the Daily Trust that morning. The headline read: “Hisbah allocates 50 mass wedding slots to Kano journalists.” According to the report, the Commander-General of Kano State Hisbah Board, Sheik Aminu Daurawa, announced that journalists practising in the state had been allotted 50 females out of the number of women that would be given out for mass marriage in the state. Sheik Daurawa, who said that the previous mass marriage during which 1,800 women were married off was a huge success, disclosed that the Hisbah Board had decided to expand the scope by including professional bodies as beneficiaries of the mass wedding, and he was generous enough to allocate 50 slots, sorry, 50 women, to journalists in Kano State.

I read the story and I felt that the editor should post me to Kano that moment. Unfortunately, he too had his eyes on the 50 slots! My Editor was not alone. His General Editor too was calling for an “expression of interest” – who no like beta thing?

As I penned this, the possibility of going to Kano was still open as Sheik Daurawa had not disclosed the date for the second mass wedding, which the Islamic scholar said was conceived “to promote moral values in the society and reduce immorality among young men and women.” We shall return to Kano presently.

When it comes to matters of the other room, it does not rain in northern Nigeria, it pours. Something bigger than the Kano mass wedding is about to happen in another state in Northern Nigeria. On May 24, in the Year of the Lord, dignitaries from all walks of life will be gathering in Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State as the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji, will be marrying off 100 girls in a mass wedding. Now, wait for it! These 100 girls are not willing spinsters of marriageable ages. No!

Ready for mass marriage


They are children who became orphaned because bandits struck their villages and killed their parents! The children became orphans not by their choices but by the failure of the government to protect them and their parents from the killer machines known as bandits. And to ‘ameliorate’ their suffering, the “Rt. Hon. Speaker” Sarkin-Daji decided that the best way to do so was to marry them off. These wives-to-be are the luckiest of the 170 females trapped in the same circumstance.

And if you think that Mr. Niger State Speaker is alone in this shenanigan, you are damned wrong! The governor of the state, Mohammed Umar Bago, and the Emir of Kontagora, Alhaji Mohammed Barau, are to serve as guardians to the female orphans during the mass marriage ceremony! Neither the governor nor the Emir has denied this.

What about the ages of the 100-would-be wives? While the ‘father’ of the mass brides, Sarkin-Daji, did not disclose their ages, a source that should know, volunteered that the oldest among the ‘intending brides’ should be around 16 years! “This is just the conservative age. I know that a girl of 13 or 14 years in that locality is already a multiple mother”, my source volunteered!

The speaker, who had already listed the proposed mass wedding of the orphans as part of his “constituency empowerment project aimed at alleviating the suffering of the impoverished”, waxed more ‘generous’ by saying that he would be paying the dowries for the bridegrooms, in addition to procuring “all necessary materials for the mass marriage ceremony.” And of course, his soul-mate in the generous act, Sheik Aminu Daurawa of the Kano State Hisbah Board would be on ground to witness the ‘grand’ ceremony.

The mass weddings in Niger and Kano States would be conducted without any recourse to the psychological make-ups of the would-be-brides. I don’t also know if the would-be-husbands would also be allowed to ‘inspect’, feel and touch the girls, the way a buyer feels goats on their tethers before buying them. Don’t worry, we have sunk deeper than this as a nation!

On this page last week, we discussed the issue of the age of admission to Nigerian universities by the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, who proposed 18 years. His argument was that any child who goes to the university before the age of 18 is “too young.” The professor of Law further argued that those “too young” undergraduates “were not mature enough” to cope with the rigours of life in the tertiary institutions, and attributed most of the problems in our higher institutions to the ‘immature’ undergraduates. This is the irony of Nigeria.

Professor Mamman is from the North. This is how a friend, Rev (Dr) Bola Adeyemi, responded to the referenced column last week: “In his part of the country, girls of 13 years of age ‘are mature’ for marriage; boys under 18 years are mature enough for ‘Almajarism’ and terrorism, but not for education.”

I could not fault the Reverend gentleman. How on earth do we explain our situation to the sane nations of this world without sounding not all involved? How do we justify the proposed mass wedding in Niger State without looking like people from the stone age to listeners from other countries?

Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (As Amended), deals with the “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.”

Section 14 (2) (b) of the same chapter states specifically: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” This is exactly the responsibility the government has failed to discharge in Niger State, and in most states of the North, and the entire country in general. On a daily basis, we read, hear or witness, the killings of Nigerians in their homes, on their farms, on the highways and schools’ dormitories, by felons the state was expected to checkmate. About two days ago, bandits stormed a university in Kogi State and whisked away about 15 students.

Everywhere you turn to in Nigeria, it is like the song of the iconoclast, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “sorrow, tears and blood”. Yet we have various levels of government. We have people we voted into public offices to do the job for us. We have the National Security Adviser (NSA), whose only interest is to collect cyber-security tax while bandits kill at the rate of 10 for two Kobo! We have generals in all our Armed Forces. We have an Inspector General of Police and other top hierarchies who superintend the rank and file.

Bandits struck in Niger State, as in other places. Parents were killed. Children were orphaned as a result of such crass irresponsibility on the part of the government. The only response we got is a proposed mass wedding for 100 orphans, whose parents were victims of a remiss government, to only-God-knows–who suitors! Who are we as a people? What are the core values of our being as a nation? The education of the girl-child has been a troublesome issue in Nigeria. A February 26, 2024, article on the issue, titled: “Gender desks on frontline of girls’ education in Nigeria”, and sponsored by the United Nations educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s International Institute for Education Planning, states: “In Nigeria, where 50% of girls are not attending schools at the basic education level, major planning efforts are underway to promote gender equality in and through education.”

The paper posits that between 2024-2027, the roadmap for the Education Sector “aims to bring 15 million out-of-school children back to school in the next four years.”  Again, in an earlier piece by Ada Dike of Daily Times, published on October 15, 2023, on the topic; “Problems facing girl-child education in Nigeria”, the author said: “poverty, peer pressure, early marriage, unwanted pregnancy, being their family’s burden bearers and lack of parental care are parts of the challenges hindering girl child education in Nigeria”. All these identified factors are more prevalent in the north. The most vicious of them all is the issue of “early marriage”, the type Speaker Sarkin-Daji of Niger State and Sheik Daurawa of Kano Hisbah Board, are promoting with crass impunity.

Registering for mass wedding

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), on October 23, 2023, gave the figure of out-of-school-girls  in Nigeria to be 7.6 million, with the caveat: “mostly from Northern region.” Of the 20.2 million figures of out-of-school children in the country, the international body said that over 60 percent of the total is from the North.  The figure, as given by Christian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, in Kano, during the International Day of the Girl 2023, which had the theme: “Our Time is Now – Our Rights, Our Future”, said: “Nigeria, alarmingly, accounts for 15% of out-of-school children worldwide. Yet, only a mere 9% of the poorest girls have the chance to attend secondary school. This is not just a statistic, it’s a wake-up call…” She added that Kano State ranked second in the number of out-of-school girls in Nigeria, with Kebbi State leading with 67.7 percent.

The elite of the north, and indeed, all Nigerians, should be deeply worried that the data on literacy level published, recently, by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that of the 10 states classified as educationally less advantaged states in Nigeria: Kebbi, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, and Niger States, all make the list! Little wonder then the states in the North have large number of girls to be married off at mass wedding ceremonies.  That is our collective shame as a nation. This is why Nigeria keeps crawling, and drooling, 64 years after independence. No matter the space the other regions of the country intend to take, our stunted brothers up North would keep slowing us down!

The girl-child is an endangered species in the North. We all witnessed how a former two-term governor and senator of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani Yerima, was changing neonates as wives the way a nursing mother changes diapers. We only watched and we did nothing! The man sat in the hallowed chamber of our highest law-making body to join in making laws “for the good governance of the country” while joined in the wanton destruction of our future with his incurable paedophilic propensity. The best we did was to hide under the blackmail of culture and religion. We never interrogated the mentality of a man above 60 years pulling his trousers at the sight of a 13-year-old girl! And we have millions of Yerimas all over the country, prowling and devouring our young girls. Nobody says a younger girl should not marry her grandfather if that is where she finds ‘love’. Our argument here is that it is morally wrong, mentally inconceivable and legally inappropriate for any man, no matter his age, status and political exposure, to snatch an underage girl in the name of marriage. Nigeria practises universal adult suffrage. That gives one the feeling that the age of consent cannot be lower than the voting age of 18 years.

Even, on a moral scale, picking an 18-year-old for marriage while her mates are still in school is eternally despicable. But our leaders do it with impunity! The deposed Emir of Kano State and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS), secretly wedded Sa’adatu Barkindo Mustapha, the daughter of Lamido Adamawa, in 2016, at the age of 18, before making the affair public in 2020, when Sa’adatu turned 22. The former Emir of Kano was 55 years old then! But that was not all with the deposed traditional ruler. In the same 2016, SLS was fingered in the abduction of Ese Oruru, a 14-year-old girl from her Yenagoa, Bayelsa State home, by one Yinusa, aka Yellow. The girl was taken to the Emir of Kano’s palace, where she was forced to ‘marry’ Yinusa. Attempts to retrieve the little Oruru from SLS’s palace were met with stiff resistance until Nigerians rose in an outcry. One of those who fought for Oruru’s release, Fineman Peters, said then: “This case defies sanity… This is the most blatant state-sponsored case of paedophile (sic) that I have ever seen…”

The barbaric case of paedophilia which Google defines as “sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object. Specifically, a psychiatric disorder in which an adult has sexual fantasies about or engages in sexual cats with a prepubescent child”, is not a native of the North. It has mild and largely negligible expressions in virtually all states of the federation. The difference between the North and other parts of the country is in its prevalence up North and the tendency to wear cultural and religious cloaks on such an act of depravity. From Delta to Edo, Osun to Ekiti; Akwa Ibom to Rivers and Abia to Enugu States, cases of cradle snatchers abound. We have senators whose pastime is seeking young girls to devour.

One of them from one of the Niger Delta States, an unrepentant paramour, who would not go for outright under-age girls, stocks his harem with girls that could easily pass for his granddaughters! We all condoned him and rewarded him with an election to a higher legislative chamber. The shame of it is on all of us! Now, the chicken is coming home to roost. On Sunday, May 12, 2024, we all read the account of the 28-year old father of little Faith, a five-year-old girl, who posted on his Instagram page, the naked photos of the toddler. Faith’s father, who had since been arrested in his Auchi, Edo State base, by the men of the Edo Police Command, was said to have taken the poor little girl to a hotel, took off her clothes and took her naked photos which he uploaded on his Instagram handle! Thank God for the immediate response of the police on this matter.

When one begins to read cases like these, especially from our brothers up North, one cannot but feel sad. Ironically, the region we all pity is like the proverbial troubled soul on whose behalf we all fast and pray, but who keeps on having three full meals every day. How do we address this issue? That informed the banters at the beginning of this piece. The elders of my place say: when a matter goes beyond weeping, one is encouraged to laugh it off. And like we say in the Niger Delta region: make pesin laugh before pesin kpai! Let me ask my editor again: Any chance of going to Kano?

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