Lukman Olabiyi

The Federal Government of Nigeria has granted approval for the decentralisation of the Marriage Registry in Ikoyi, Lagos, in order to address challenges being faced at the institution.

Apart from granting approval for the establishment of the Ikoyi Marriage Registry Annex by the Federal Government and other relevant authorities, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, disclosed that arrangements are in advanced stages to establish a Marriage Registry at Ikeja, Lagos State, and Ibadan, Oyo State, respectively.

Ehuriah made the disclosure Thursday at a stakeholders conference on the conduct of statutory marriage in Lagos, with the theme “Achieving Harmonious Compliance in the Conduct of Statutory Marriage in Nigeria.”

The ministry’s permanent secretary added that the Federal Government has introduced a new Federal Marriage Certificate for all types of marriages in the country.

She said 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.

According to her, not all places of worship are permitted to conduct marriages. She advised Nigerians 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,” she said while declaring the conference open.

“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.

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“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.”

Speaking on the benefits of the certificate, Ehuriah said it will be recognised by all foreign embassies during visa application.

She further noted that conduct of marriages by places of worship not duly licensed by the ministry will be considered a breach of the Marriage Act.

“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.

She said the ministry was 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 said.