Despite the disagreement between the Federal Government and some local government areas over who has the right to conduct marriages in the country, the Federal Government has published 12 marriage registries and places 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 12 registries in 11 states. They are the Federal Marriage Registries in Ikoyi, Lagos State; Abuja, Federal Capital Territory; Benin, Edo State; Owerri, Imo State; Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Kano, Kano State; Jos, Plateau State, Enugu, Enugu; Kaduna, Kaduna; Ibadan, Oyo State; Ikeja, Lagos State, and Makurdi, Benue 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.