The Ministry of Interior has amended the Marriage Act to allow local government areas and area development councils of the Federal Capital Territory to conduct statutory marriages.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior and Principal Registrar of Marriages in Nigeria, Dr Shuaib Belgore, disclosed this during the 2021 National Stakeholders’ Conference on the “Administration and Conduct of Statutory Marriages in Nigeria“, in Abuja on Friday.
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He, however, said only the ministry has the right to issue the “only valid and legally recognised Certificate of Marriage.”
The local government registrars and the ministry have been having a running battle over the right to conduct statutory marriages in the country.
But in his Keynote address, Dr Belgore said: “The Ministry of Interior is statutorily responsible for the conduct of statutory marriages in Nigeria, Licensing of Public Places of Worship for the celebration of statutory marriages, and ensuring that statutory marriages are conducted in line with the Marriage Act Cap M6, LFN 2004 as amended.
“It is my utmost pleasure, therefore, to inform you about one of the major achievements of the Ministry which is the successful review of the contents of the 2nd Schedule to the Marriage Act known as the Legal Notices.
“The review has brought the Legal Notices in conformity with the present administrative and political realities in Nigeria today while the amendment of other sections of the Marriage Act is ongoing.
“The amended Legal Notices has changed the dynamics of the administration and conduct of statutory marriages in Nigeria and has put to rest the lingering disagreement between the Ministry and the Local Government Registrars of Marriage by designating the Local Government Areas and Area Development Councils of the Federal Capital Territory as Marriage Districts.
“The Beauty of this arrangement is that it brings the services of this Ministry, via the Marriage Registries, closer to the grassroots, thus reducing the need to travel relatively long distances to get married at a Federal Marriage Registry.”
Belgore said the new regime entails strict adherence to the administrative and statutory procedures in the conduct of statutory marriages, adding that, to achieve this, the Ministry had created an Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation (EI&I) division whose function is to ensure that places of worship and marriage registries comply with the provisions of the Marriage Act.
The Principal Registrar of Marriages also said 20 new federal marriage registries would be created in the state capitals in addition to the existing seven in order to take services closer to Nigerians.
Speaking earlier, the representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Assistant Secretary-General of CAN, Apostle Biodun Sanya-Olu, who lamented that many marriages were crumbling in the country, called on the government to tackle insecurity and poverty.
He said those factors were responsible for the failure of most marriages in the country, adding that the church was stepping up teachings on marriage in order to help stem the tide of divorces.
On his part, the representative of the National Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Dr Talmiz Usman, advocated for the upliftment of family values to help reduce the vices in society.