The Federal Government of Nigeria through its Ministry of Interior has said that a lot of the marriages conducted by various registries across the country are null and void. There has always been an argument around whether or not the Local Governments have the statutory powers to conduct marriages and issue licenses. That question has now been answered following a new development to the disagreement. The Federal Government has now published the names of the only twenty marriage registries and places it has licensed to conduct statutory marriage across the country.
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Interior, re-emphasised its position that it was the only tier of government permitted by the constitution to regulate and conduct marriages.
It added that formation of statutory marriages was within the exclusive legislative list and that it was the regulatory body for the conduct of statutory marriages and the issuance of marriage certificates.
On its website, the ministry named the 20 registries in 11 states. They are the,
- Federal Marriage Registry Ikoyi, Lagos State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Abuja, Federal Capital Territory;
- Federal Marriage Registry Benin, Edo State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Owerri, Imo State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Port Harcourt, Rivers State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Kano, Kano State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Jos, Plateau State,
- Federal Marriage Registry Enugu, Enugu;
- Federal Marriage Registry Kaduna, Kaduna;
- Federal Marriage Registry Ibadan, Oyo State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Ikeja, Lagos State,
- Federal Marriage Registry Makurdi, Benue State
- Federal Marriage Registry Umuahia, Abia State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Jalingo, Taraba State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Yola, Adamawa State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Asaba, Delta State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Gombe, Gombe State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Awka, Anambra State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Calaba, Cross River State;
- Federal Marriage Registry Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
In an advertorial titled, ‘Public notice on conduct of statutory marriage’, in a newspaper on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said,
“The attention of the Ministry of Interior has been drawn to the publication in the PUNCH Newspaper of Friday, 13th September, 2019, page 42 under the caption, ‘Marriage: Ignore FG’s directive, LGs tell organisations’.
“The Ministry of Interior is therefore constrained to issue this notice in order to properly guide the public on the issue of Statutory Marriages under the applicable law in Nigeria.”
The ministry explained further that it had the responsibility for granting licences to qualified places of worship as well as LGAs that compiled with the provisions of the Act (Sections 4(2) & (5) of the Marriage Act), adding that the ministry had the responsibility to appoint officers to serve as registrars in the Federal Marriage Registries.
The public notice added,
“It is observed that the local governments have deliberately misinterpreted powers conferred on them by item 7 (1) of the Fourth Schedule of the constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, item 7(1) states that the functions of the Local Government include: registration of all births, deaths and marriages. This provision is clear and requires the local government councils to maintain registries to register births, deaths and marriages for record purposes and planning.”
The ministry, however, warned that any statutory marriage conducted in breach of the Marriage Act, CAP 218, Laws of the Federation 2004 would not serve the desired purpose.