Nigeria: Local Govts Have Exclusive Right to Register Marriages, Registrars Insist

5 December 2019

The Association of Local Governments Marriage Registrars of Nigeria has insisted that local government areas in the country have the exclusive power to register marriages, contrary to the claim of the Federal Government.

The Ministry of Interior and local government councils in Nigeria had been on a war path for a while now over disagreement on the body responsible for the registration of statutory marriages in Nigeria.

The Association of Local Governments Marriage Registrars of Nigeria, in a statement signed by its President, Sokeye Deji and Secretary, Chinda Joy Ruhuoma on Thursday, was reacting to publications in some national dailies by the Ministry of Interior which were warning Nigerians not to register their statutory marriages in the Local Government, stressing that the third tie of government lacked the constitutional power to do so.

However, the local government registrars argued that Section 30(1) of the Constitution and Para 1(i) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution gave Local Government the exclusive jurisdiction to register marriages.

"It is quite surprising and even a flagrant disobedience to the decision of the Federal High Court concerning this matter in suit No: FHC/LCS/1760/16, in EGOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT & 3 ORS V. MINISTER OF INTERIOR & ANOR which reaffirmed the earlier decision by the same court in suit No: FHC/L/870/2002 in HAASTRUP & ANOR v ETI OSA LOCAL GVT & 2 ORS where the court held that it was in the past that power to issue or grant licences was within the exclusive power of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (now Ministry of Interior)," the association added.

The body went further to caution the Ministry of Interior to stop misleading the public with the claim that Item 7 to the fourth schedule to the constitution, which states that "... the functions of the Local Government include: Registration of all births, deaths and marriages", only required the Local Government Councils to maintain registries to register births, deaths and marriages for record purposes and planning alone.

Speaking with Daily Trust, Deji lamented that foreign embassies in Nigeria had stopped accepting Certificate of Marriage issued by the Local Government Areas in the country, in compliance to the instruction by the Ministry of Interior.

He called on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently step into the matter to end the chaos being created by the Ministry of Interior.

Deji said the association will seek redress in court if other means of resolving the issue failed.

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