Local Government Marriage Registrars have said only local government councils in Nigeria are empowered by the constitution to register all types of marriages in the country.
They stated that marriage matters are the exclusive local government affairs in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
Rising from its national conference in Abuja on Thursday, the Local Government Marriage Registrars condemned Ministry of Interior for misleading the public over the matter.
The Ministry of Interior had recently held conferences in parts of the country to sensitize stakeholders on the proper way to register marriages, which it claimed was the exclusive responsibility of the ministry.
However, the Local Government Marriage Registrars are kicking against this, lamenting that the ministry went ahead to issue false statements even when a case against the ministry over the matter was still pending in court.
Reading the communiqué issued at the end of the conference attended by local government registrars from across the country, the National President, Body of Marriage Registrars, Deji Sokeye, accused the interior ministry and some state ministries of taking away the functions of the LGs to register marriages.
Sokeye called on the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to direct the Permanent Secretary and staff in the ministry to “close down their illegal marriage registries being run by a private firm, Anchor Dataware Solutions Ltd.”
“Apart from its illegality, based on relevant Nigerian legal framework, the contract between the ministry and the firm is being operated in a manner that creates an avenue for corruption to thrive in view of the sharing ratio of funds collected on behalf of the ministry of interior by the private company.
“It is sad, worrying and damaging to the country’s image that some people in the ministry of interior caused a letter to be written to some foreign embassies in Nigeria denouncing the constitutional rights of local government councils to register marriages and misrepresenting to and arrogating to the ministry of interior the powers to register marriages.
“This is sad. The ministry of interior had no such powers to register marriages and should refrain from act that may further damage Nigeria’s image within the comity of nations,” he stated.
The body called on the Secretary to Government of the Federation, interior minister, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the National Assembly and state governments to take steps to stop the interior ministry and other state governments from further setting up or operating illegal marriage registration activities in the country.
The communiqué further stated that “It is an elementary knowledge that marriage matters are exclusive local government affairs in Nigeria and other parts of the world.”
It, therefore, advised worship centres and foreign embassies in the country to disregard the circular from the Ministry of Interior directing them to recognize only marriage certificates from federal marriage registries.
When contacted for reactions, the Director of Press in the interior ministry, Mr Mohammed Manga, said the ministry will respond after examining the claims.