The Federal Ministry of Interior says it has put in place machinery to commence process to amend the Marriage Act to meet citizens’ needs in line with current trends.
It also said that arrangements were ongoing to give couples whose marriage certificates were not issued in line with the Act, the opportunity to bring them to conformity.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, made this known at a stakeholders’ conference on “Conduct of Statutory Marriage’’ on Wednesday in Abuja.
The theme of the conference is “Achieving Harmonious Compliance in the Conduct of Statutory Marriage in Nigeria”.
She said that marriage was an important institution that played a major role in social stability as well as sustainability of humanity.
Ehuriah, who doubles as Principal Registrar of Marriages in Nigeria, explained that the ministry’s decision to organise the meeting was borne out of its experience in the discharge of its duties.
According to her, this points to the fact that there are extant issues in the administration of the conduct of statutory marriages which require joint attention of key stakeholders.
She listed some of the issues as poor understanding of the Marriage Act that had led to non-adherence of its provisions, proliferation of certificates of marriage and other essential marriage documents.
The permanent secretary said that the Nigerian Law envisaged three types of marriages – Traditional/ Customary, Church/Islamic and Statutory.
“Unlike the other two, the procedure, the role and functions of the key players in the conduct of statutory marriage are purely constitutional and guided by relevant laws.
“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.
Ehuriah said that the Marriage Act specified the duties of the principal Registrar of Marriages as the printer of the several Books of Marriages and Certificate of Marriage for distribution to all registries.
She said that the registrar of marriage was also the custodian of the counterfoil (the 3rd copy) of the marriage certificate.
“The implication of this is that any certificate not printed and delivered by the Principal Registrar of Marriages is illegal and cannot serve the desired purposes.
“Also considered a breach of the marriage Act is the conduct of marriages by places of worship that have not been duly licensed by the ministry as stated in Section 23 of the Marriage Act,” she said.
She added that presently, no fewer than 4,689 licensed places of worship in Nigeria had updated their records with the ministry, of which only 314 had renewed their
Ehuriah said the implication of this was that marriages conducted in unlicensed places of worship were not in line with the Act and could not serve legal purposes when the need arose.
According to her, such unlicensed places of worship are operating contrary to S.6 (1) of the Marriage Act.