Nigerian town hit by jihadist violence stages mass wedding

Fifty couples married at a sponsored mass wedding on Friday in a Nigerian town devastated by years of jihadist attacks, organisers told AFP.

The ceremony was led by the chief imam at the central mosque in Biu, which has suffered deadly assaults by the Boko Haram jihadist group during the jihadist conflict in northeastern Nigeria.

The 14-year insurgency has led to a humanitarian crisis, and organisers said many brides were unable to afford the gifts their families are traditionally expected to provide.

Muhammad Bundi, secretary of the committee which organised the wedding in Borno state, told AFP the brides aged between 17 and 18 came from poor households and had lost their fathers, mostly in the conflict.

“The (jihadist) violence has claimed the lives of so many breadwinners in this town, leaving behind many daughters that have no means of providing the marriage provisions required by tradition,” Bundi said.

In the conservative Muslim state where cultural norms are strong, the bride’s family typically provides furniture and kitchenware while the groom offers accommodation, clothing and jewellery.

It was the second round of mass weddings for 180 young brides selected by Bundi’s committee of Muslim clerics and local chiefs. Last week 50 brides were married in the same mosque.

The mass wedding was initiated and sponsored by Muktar Aliyu Betara, a lawmaker representing the area in Nigeria’s lower parliamentary chamber.

Betara paid for the furniture for the brides and planned to offer them financial help to start their careers, his spokesperson said.

The jihadist conflict has raged in northeastern Nigeria since 2009, killing more than 40,000 people and displacing around two million.

Jihadists have been pushed back from the territory they held at the height of the conflict but continue to fight on.


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