FG says marriages in Ikoyi registry are legal

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The Federal Government on Tuesday objected to an order by a Federal High Court in Lagos that marriages consummated in Ikoyi Registry, which is under the purview of the minister of interior Rauf Aregbesola, are invalid.

The court had given the ruling in a suit filed by Eti-Osa Local Government Area. According to the court, only local government councils have statutory responsibility to issue marriage certificates.

Reacting to this, permanent secretary, interior ministry, Shuaib Belgore, said in a statement that the judgment as reported would amount to a contradiction.

He said: “We would like to state that this statement is false, misleading and a deliberate distortion of the decision of the court in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/816/18 between Eti-Osa Local Government Council & three others v. Honourable Minister of Interior and 2 others, where the Honourable Court held that only the Local Government councils can conduct valid marriages in Nigeria.

“It is noteworthy that, the same Federal High Court situated in Ikoyi, Lagos in Suit No. FHC/L/870/2002 between Prince Haastrup and Eti Osa Local Government held that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Interior is constitutionally empowered to conduct marriages in Nigeria and held that the local governments were delegated by the Federal Government to conduct marriages, by virtue of Legal Notices issued pursuant to the Marriage Act.

“In that case, the learned trial judge held that nothing in the role of local governments, as defined in the Constitution, suggests that local governments can conduct or contract marriages as alleged in their pleadings.

“The court affirmed that powers of the local governments to contract statutory marriages is derived from the Legal Notices issued by the President.

“The court also confirmed that the role of local governments, as enshrined in the Constitution, is limited to registration of all forms of marriages (including Islamic and customary marriages).”

Belgore said that rather than appeal the court’s decision, the same claimants instituted another action in 2016 suit no. FHC/L/CS/1760/16 Egor Local Government, Eti- Osa Local Government and two others which was struck off for being an abuse of court process as it would lead to conflicting decisions coming from the same court.

 

He added, “Further to the above, the current decision of the Federal High Court delivered by Hon. Justice D. E. Osiagor of Court 6, cannot set aside a previous decision of the same Court, which is of coordinate jurisdiction, as that would amount to the court sitting on appeal over its own judgment.”

 

The ministry’s permanent secretary added that the ministry has applied for a certified true copy of the judgement and will take appropriate action afterwards.

 

“We would like to appeal to the general public, the international community, to couples who had hitherto had their marriages solemnized at Federal Marriage Registries by duly licensed places of worship and to all intending couples to be calm and continue transacting their normal businesses at all Federal Marriage Registries subsisting throughout the federation in line with statutory and constitutional provisions.

 

“The general public is to please note the foregoing and maintain status quo ante,” he said.

 

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