Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Federal government has commenced arrangements to amend the Marriage Act to meet up citizen’s needs in line with the current trends.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, made the disclosure at a one-day stakeholders’ conference on “Conduct of Statutory Marriage,” held in Abuja.
She said that arrangement was ongoing to give couples whose marriage certificates were not issued in line with the act, the opportunity to bring them to conformity.
The permanent secretary further revealed that the ministry would equally advise the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the legally accepted certificate for the guidance of foreign embassies in Nigeria and Nigeria’s missions abroad.
She also explained that marriage is an important institution that plays a major role in social stability as well as the sustainability of humanity, adding that the decision to organise the conference was borne out of its experience in the discharge of its duties.
According to her; “this points to the fact that there are extant issues in the administration of the conduct of statutory marriages which require joint attention of key stakeholders.”
She listed some of the issues as a poor understanding of the Marriage Act that had led to non-adherence of its provisions, the proliferation of certificates of marriage and other essential marriage documents.
Stressing that the Nigeria Law envisaged three types of marriages: traditional/customary, Church/Islamic and statutory, she said: “Unlike the other two, the procedure, the role, and functions of the key players in the conduct of statutory marriage are purely constitutional and guided by relevant laws.
“The Marriage Act Cap M6 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 as amended, is the principal act upon which statutory marriages are conducted, legalised and adjudicated in Nigeria. It specifies the requirements and the procedure for the conduct of statutory marriages and the role of principal actors,” she said.
The permanent secretary further stressed that the Marriage Act specified the duties of the Principal Registrar of Marriages as the printer of the several Books of Marriages and Certificate of Marriage for distribution to all registries.
According to her, the registrar of marriage is also the custodian of the counterfoil (the 3rd copy) of the marriage certificate.
The implication of this she said “is that any certificate not printed and delivered by the Principal Registrar of Marriages is illegal and cannot serve the desired purposes.”
Also considered, according to him, is “a breach of the Marriage Act the conduct of marriages by places of worship that have not been duly licensed by the ministry as stated in Section 23 of the Marriage Act.”