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Any Marriage Certificate Not Printed, Delivered By Principal Registrar Of Marriages Is Illegal – MINISTRY OF INTERIOR

PERMANENT SECRETARY, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, BARRISTER GEORGINA EHURIAH 

BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU, LAGOS 

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah, on Thursday (today) made a declaration that any marriage certificate not printed and delivered by the Principal Registrar of Marriages is illegal and cannot serve the desired purposes.

Ehuriah further explained that the Marriage Act Cap M6 of the Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as amended is the Principal Act upon which statutory marriages are conducted, legalised and adjudicated in Nigeria, adding that Sections 24, 30(3) and 31 specifies the duties of the Principal Registrar of Marriages as the printer of the several books of marriage and Certificate of Marriage for distribution to all registries and recognised licensed places of worship throughout Nigeria as well as the custodian of the counterfoil of the Marriage Certificate.

Speaking while delivering her keynote address at the stakeholders' conference on the conduct of statutory marriage which held in Lagos, Nigeria under the theme: ‘Achieving Harmonious Compliance in the Conduct of Statutory Marriage in Nigeria', the Permanent Secretary insisted that it remained a breach of the Marriage Act if marriages are conducted by places of worship that have not been duly licensed by the Ministry of Interior as stated in Section 23 of the Marriage Act.

While insisting that marriages conducted in unlicensed places of worship are not in line with the Marriage Act and cannot serve legal purposes when the need arises, Ehuriah maintained that such unlicensed places of worship are operating contrary to Section 6(1) of the Marriage Act.

According to her, “The Ministry of Interior is statutorily responsible for the administration of Marriage Registries, licensing of places of worship for celebration of marriages and ensuring that statutory marriages are conducted in accordance with the Marriage Act 1990, Cap 218, LFN and as elaborated in Marriage Act Cap M6, LFN 2004 as amended.

“Marriage is an important institution that plays a major role in social stability and sustainability of humanity.

“In realisation of its importance, governments in every nation put in place administrative and legal structures to ensure the realisation of these societal mandates.

“In Nigeria for instance, this arrangement was put in place through the enactment of the Marriage Act in 1914, the same year the Nigeria state came into being.”

The Permanent Secretary used the opportunity to make public that the Federal Government of Nigeria, FGN, has granted approval for the decentralisation of the Marriage Registry in Ikoyi, Lagos, in order to address challenges being faced at the institution.

Ehuriah also explained that apart from granting approval for the establishment of the Ikoyi Marriage Registry Annex by the FGN and other relevant authorities, arrangements are in advanced stages to establish a Marriage Registry at Ikeja, Lagos State, and Ibadan, Oyo State, respectively.

She equally announced that the FGN has introduced a new Federal Marriage Certificate for all types of marriages in the country.

The Permanent Secretary explained that existing 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.

Ehuriah said, “Not all places of worship are permitted to conduct marriages. 

“Nigerians are advised to ensure that their marriages are conducted in places licensed by the Ministry of Interior.

“It is my pleasure to address key stakeholders at this very important conference. 

“I am delighted that we have created time from our very busy schedules to participate in this conference which is aimed at deliberating on a subject which is of great interest to humanity.

“As you may be aware, the Ministry of Interior is statutorily responsible for the administration of Marriage Registries, licensing of places of worship for celebration of marriages and ensuring that statutory marriages are conducted in accordance with the Marriage Act 1990, Cap 218, LFN and as elaborated in Marriage Act Cap M6, LF N 2004 as amended.

“This aspect of the Ministry’s mandate is of special interest to me as the Act designates the Permanent Secretary as the Principal Registrar of Marriages in Nigeria. 

“This bestows on me enormous coordinating and supervisory responsibilities as specified in Sections 24, 30 (3) and 31 of the Act.

“In view of the peculiar circumstance as it relates to the conduct of marriages at the Ikoyi Marriage Registry, approval has been granted by relevant authorities for the establishmept of lkoyi Marriage Registry Annex while arrangements are In advanced stages to establish Marriage Registries at Ikeja and lbadan. 

“These we hope will to a good extent address some of the challenges being faced at the Registry.”

On the benefits of the Marriage Certificate, Ehuriah added stated that same would be recognised by all foreign embassies during visa application.

“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 Interior Ministry according to Ehuriah is building a database for all statutory marriages conducted in Nigeria.

“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,” Ehuriah added.

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