One hundred couples were married at a mass wedding in the city of Kano, north central Nigeria, on Tuesday. The ceremony was the culmination of efforts of the city's Islamic police at helping widows find new husbands and stable families for their children.
Digital Journal reported that the Islamic sharia police, known as the Hisbah, are running a programme to match widows and divorcees with available men. The programme is being run in the hope that it will help curb violence and unrest in northern Nigeria by providing stable homes, social and financial security for women without husbands, and children without fathers.
On Tuesday, hundreds of residents of Kano were at the city's central mosque for the wedding of the first batch of 100 divorcees and widows out of 1000 the Hisbah has screened for marriage to suitors. The grand ceremony, according to AFP, was attended by the city's emir and top government officials.
AFP reports that the grooms were dressed in flowing robes. A Hisbah official read off the names of the couples. An exception was made for the local costum that brides should not attend their wedding ceremony. Some brides attended, dressed in veils and wax-cloth dresses, AFP reports.
One of the brides, 40-year-old Magajiya Ya'u, said: "I'm very happy today. May God reward all those involved in this project."
A groom, 55-year-old Sule Alaramma, in the company of well-wishers, said: "I'm in high spirits today because I have married the woman of my choice virtually at no cost because the government has shouldered the cost."
The Punch reports that two visually impaired persons Malam Adamu Mai Pada and Malama Batula Umaru were married.
Alhaji Abba Sufi, director of the board responsible for arranging the marriages, said it was the desire of the state government to see that eligible spouses get married and live a happy life. Sufi, according to The Punch, said there were no political considerations in picking the beneficiaries. He said 1,800 forms were distributed from which the 100 beneficiaries were selected. He said another batch of 100 spouses would be joined in wedlock very soon.
According to The Punch, two of the persons being married were former Christians who became Muslims. One of them Isah Brakar, is from Langtang in Plateau State.
AFP reports that the head of the Hisbah, Aminu Daurawa, said after the wedding: "We are grateful to God that we have begun to realize our dream of marrying 1,000 women as part of the government's commitment to mitigate the social malaise we are facing in our society. We will continue to conduct the weddings in batches and soon we will have the wedding of the second set of 100 women already screened."
The Hisbah paid dowries of $65 per bride on behalf of the grooms, and according to The Punch, provided the brides with furniture and kitchen allowance. The Hisbah also provided a token of $95 to each couple to help start their new lives. Most of the grooms are poor and cannot afford the expenses of a wedding ceremony on their own.
AFP reports the brides were represented at the ceremony by the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, and the grooms by a senior government official Dr. Rabiu Suleiman, on behalf of the state governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.