The Federal Government of Nigeria has introduced a new Federal Marriage Certificate for all types of marriages in the country, Premium Times reports.
Georgina Ehuriah, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior disclosed this on Wednesday at a stakeholder conference on the conduct of statutory marriage in Abuja.
According to Ehuriah, married couples who do not have their certificate issued by the Ministry of Interior are advised to visit the ministry’s website to re-certify their marriage certificates.
The secretary went further to say not all places of worship are permitted to conduct marriages. She advised Nigerians to ensure that their marriages are conducted in places licensed by the Ministry of Interior. She disclosed:
“This is for the marriage to be credible and registered in the National database of legally certified marriages. If the certificate is not printed and delivered by the principal registrar of marriages, then it is illegal and can not serve the desired purpose.
“Arrangements are ongoing for couples whose certificates were not issued in line with the Marriage Act of opportunity to bring them to conformity.”
Speaking on the benefits of the certificate, Mrs Ehuriah said it will be recognised by all foreign embassies during visa application. She advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to accept the certificate for the guidance of foreign embassies in Nigeria and Nigerian missions aboard.
In addition, she said conducting marriages by places of worship not duly licensed by the ministry will be considered a breach of the Marriage Act. She said most Nigerian marriages are illegal, as only 314 worship centres have licenses to conduct weddings.
“Presently, only about 4,689 licensed places of worship in Nigeria have updated their records with the Ministry of Interior; 314 have renewed their licenses to conduct statutory marriages.”
She said the ministry is building a database for all statutory marriages conducted in Nigeria. She continued:
“It has also developed a database for all places of worship licensed for celebration of marriages ”
This will enable the ministry to be in a good position to respond to enquiries from various interested parties from within and outside Nigeria, Mrs Ehuriah said.
She said documentation process for the licensing of places of worship has been automated to facilitate submission of application for licenses by interested places of worship. She stated:
“Administrators of places of worship are encouraged to meet the requirements to satisfy their members.”
She said government at all levels has the responsibility of ensuring the sanctity of marriage by supporting any initiative aimed at promoting compliance with the Act.
Stephen Okon, the director, citizenship and business at the ministry said it is important to educate the public on the key requirements of the Marriage Act. He stated:
“Sometimes citizens are denied their rights because of the manner their certificates of marriage was documented.”
Speaking further, he said Nigerians do not conduct statutory marriage even after traditional and church marriage “despite the growing popularity of Registry marriage”.