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Nigerian officials probe plan to marry off scores of female orphans

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Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs says it is investigating a plan by a lawmaker in central Niger state to marry off some 100 female orphans of unknown ages later this month.

Speaker of the Niger State Assembly Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji announced the mass wedding last week but called off the ceremony following widespread outrage.

Minister of Women Affairs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, speaking to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, condemned the plans.

Kennedy-Ohanenye said she had petitioned the police and filed a lawsuit to stop the marriages pending an investigation to ascertain the age of the orphans and whether they consented to the marriages.

“This is totally unacceptable by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and by the government” of Nigeria, she said.

Last week, Sarkin-Daji announced his support for the mass wedding of the orphans, whose relatives were killed during attacks by armed bandits. He said it was part of his support to his constituents following an appeal for wedding funding by local traditional and religious leaders.

The mass wedding had been scheduled for May 24.

“That support I intend to give for the marriage of those orphans, I’m withdrawing it,” he said. “The parents can have the support [money], if they wish, let them go ahead and marry them off. As it is right now, I’m not threatened by the action of the minister.”

Despite national laws prohibiting it, forced or arranged marriage is a common phenomenon in Nigeria, especially among rural communities in the predominantly Muslim north, where religious and cultural norms such as polygamy favor the practice.

Poor families often use forced marriage to ease financial pressure, and the European Union Agency for Asylum says girls who refuse could face repercussions such as neglect, ostracism, physical assault and rape.

Raquel Kasham Daniel escaped being married off as a teenager when her father died and now runs a nonprofit helping children, especially less-privileged girls, get a formal education for free.

She said the ability of women to avoid forced marriage in Nigeria depends on their income and education.

“I was 16 when I lost my dad and I was almost married off, but then I ran away from home. And that gave me the opportunity to complete my education, and now I have a better life,” Daniel said.

“So, the reason why I prioritize education is to make sure that other girls have access to quality schooling so that it will help them make informed decisions about their lives. Education not only increases our awareness as girls about our rights but also enhances our prospects for higher income earning,” she said.

Thirty percent of girls in Nigeria are married before they turn 18, according to Girls Not Brides, a global network of more than 1,400 civil society groups working to end child marriage.

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Historic Firefighter pay settlement and new contract win city council approval

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Houston City Council has approved a historic pay settlement and a new five-year contract for the 4,000 dedicated men and women of the Houston Fire Department. The vote marks a long-awaited victory for Houston firefighters, ending the disrespect and legal challenges and beginning the process of returning the HFD to a world-class department with adequate staffing and equipment.

“This is a historic day! I urge Houston firefighters and their families to relish this well-deserved victory. For eight long years, you have persevered through immense challenges while continuing to protect and serve our community,” said Patrick M. ‘Marty’ Lancton, President of the HPFFA. “Today’s vote by City Council is not just a resolution of past grievances; it’s recognition of our sacrifices and a commitment to providing the resources needed to continue serving Houston with dedication and pride.”

Houston City Council stalls vote on Fire Department contract – Houston  Public Media

The settlement includes provisions for back pay owed to firefighters, addressing a contentious issue that has strained labor relations for nearly a decade. The new five-year collective bargaining agreement provides pay hikes, significant improvements in working conditions, enhanced benefits, a renewed focus on recruitment and retention, and mental health support — a crucial component given firefighting’s stressful and demanding nature. The landmark deal underscores the core tenets of what it means to be a Houston firefighter: delivering excellent service, being good stewards of city resources, and giving back to the community.

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to Mayor Whitmire for his steadfast commitment to bringing this ordeal to a close,” said Lancton. “He made a promise, and he has fulfilled it. His support and public recognition of Houston firefighters and the job they do are bolstering morale and helping to mend years of distrust. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration as we strive to enhance firefighting and emergency services for Houstonians.”

Firefighters will receive their back pay in July. The new five-year contract is effective with the start of the city’s new fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

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Global Cyber Security Expert, Professor Ojo Emmanuel Ademola bags Most Outstanding Personality of the Year Award

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Professor Ojo Emmanuel Ademola has been recognized as the Outstanding Personality of the Year in Technology at the prestigious 4th Edition of the South West Advancement Award and Investment Summit. Professor Ademola is a Nigerian Cyber Security and Information Technology Management Professor and a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Chartered Management Institute.

This incredible achievement was celebrated at an exquisite event held on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at 5 pm at the esteemed Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. The event brought together esteemed technocrat political leaders and prominent personalities from diverse sectors, creating an exceptional gathering of influential figures.

 

The annual award ceremony is dedicated to acknowledging individuals for their remarkable contributions, with a special focus on those making significant impacts within the South West region of Nigeria. The esteemed recognition is a testament to Professor Ademola’s dedication and expertise in advancing technology, especially in Africa and Europe, particularly notable for his influential work in the United Kingdom.

Dr Smith Raymond, the Director General of The Institute for Enterprise Management and Analytics, commended Professor Ademola for this well-deserved award, acknowledging the professor’s unwavering commitment to technological progress. He emphasized the importance of Professor Ademola’s work. He encouraged him to continue his outstanding efforts, highlighting that this honor is a motivating call to action in further driving innovation.

 

In Professor Ademola’s absence at the event, his representation by S.A. on Media, Babatunde Adekanmbi, conveyed the professor’s heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the nomination and award. It was seen as an inspiration for Professor Ademola to continue his impactful work in technology.

 

The event was graced by an array of distinguished personalities, including Dr. Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Dele Momodu, the Chairman of Ovation Media Group, and His Imperial Majesty Oba Ogunwusi, the revered Ooni of Ife, alongside various other notable dignitaries. The gathering highlighted the significance of Professor Ademola’s contributions and celebrated the collective achievements in advancing technology and innovation within the region

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House Republicans vote to hold Garland in contempt over Biden interview audio

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House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon passed a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur on his handling of classified documents.

The final vote was 216 to 207. Rep. David Joyce of Ohio was the only Republican who voted against the contempt resolution.

Speaker Mike Johnson called the outcome “a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities.”

“It is up to Congress – not the Executive Branch – to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations, and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas,” Johnson said in a statement.

MORE: Biden asserts executive privilege over audio of interview with special counsel Hur

Garland, in response, said it was “deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland said in a statement. “I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

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