The Federal Government of Nigeria has declared through its Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Georgina E. Ehuriah, that most marriages conducted in Nigeria are illegal.
According to her, most worship centres conducting marriages in the country lack the license to do so under the statutory Marriage Act.
Ehuriah who stated this on Wednesday in Abuja while speaking at a one-day stakeholders’ conference on the conduct of statutory marriages in accordance with the Marriage Act cap, M6, LFN 2004 as amended, said only 314 worship centres are licensed to conduct marriages.
“At present, only about 4,689 licensed places of worship in Nigeria have updated their records with the Ministry of Interior, of which only 314 have renewed their licenses to conduct statutory marriages.
“The implication of this is that marriages conducted in unlicensed places of worship are not in line with the Marriage Act and cannot serve legal purposes when the need arises, and such unlicensed places of worship are operating contrary to Section 6(1) of the Marriage Act,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary noted that the decision to organize the stakeholders’ conference was necessitated by the ministry’s experience in the discharge of its duties “which pointed to the fact that there are extant issues in the administration of the conduct of statutory marriages which require the joint attention of key stakeholders.”
She also added that a machinery to kick start the process for the amendment of the Act to adequately meet the needs of citizens in the 21st century has already been put in place.
“Also, arrangements are on-going to give couples whose certificates were not issued in line with the Act the opportunity to bring them to conformity,” Ehuria added.
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