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Court Sitting in the state of Lagos has forthwith declare the issuance of
marriage certificate in local government as illegal, saying it is unlawful and unconstitutional

Justice I.O. Harrison said in her
judgement delivered on May 15, 2017, a certified true copy of which

urban express news online obtained at the weekend, that
the issuance of modified or customised marriage certificate by local government
areas contravened Section 24 of the Marriage Act and Item 6, Part 1, 2nd
Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which lists marriage on the Exclusive
Legislative List.
She further ruled that marriage being an
Exclusive List item, was under the purview of the federal government, which is
regulated by the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The judge, however, declined to nullify
all marriages conducted so far by local government areas, directing that such
certificates be surrendered and be replaced by fresh ones that would be issued
in compliance with the law.
A Lagos lawyer, Olumide Babalola, had on
September 29, 2016 filed a class action against Ikeja Local Government Area and
Registered Trustees of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON),
challenging the power of the local government areas to issue modified and/ or
customised marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E
under Section 24 of the Marriage Act LFN 1990.
He sought four reliefs: “A declaration
that the 1st and 2nd defendants do not have power to issue modified and/ or
customised marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E
under Section 24 of the Marriage Act LFN 1990;
“A declaration that the 2nd defendant’s
Local Government Unified Marriage Certificate is unknown to our law,
unconstitutional, null and void;
“A perpetual injunction restraining the
defendants, their agents, officers, employees and representatives from further
issuing modified and/ or altered marriage certificates apart from the form as
provided under Form E (1st Schedule) and Section 24 of the Marriage Act, LFN
1990; and
“A perpetual injunction restraining the
2nd defendant, their agents, officers, employees and representatives from
further issuing ‘Local Government Unified Marriage Certificates.”
Babalola supported his application with
a 29 paragraph affidavit, three exhibits and a written address.
In spite of service of summons, the
defendants neither filed any process nor appeared in court to defend the suit.
The court was, therefore, moved on March 24, 2017 with the claimant appearing
in person and arguing his case.
He argued that marriage was on the
Exclusive Legislative List and that the Marriage Act enjoined that all marriage
certificates were to be in Form E of the 1st Schedule of the Marriage Act LFN,
1990.
He claimed that the 2nd defendant and
its branches now issue their own form known as the Local Government Unified
Marriage Certificate, which was also issued to him.
Babalola prayed the court to declare the
local government areas’ action illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and
grant all the reliefs he sought.
Harrison agreed with Babalola and
granted the four reliefs, effectively shutting out local government areas from
further issuance of the unified marriage certificates and restricted them to
only registration of marriages.
“It should be noted that while
registration of marriages is regulated by local government being under the
Concurrent List, formation of marriage is under the Exclusive Legislative List
within the domain of the federal government regulated by the Federal Ministry
of Internal Affairs – item 6 of 2nd Schedule of 1999 Constitution,” she said,
explaining that: “A marriage had been declared invalid by the Supreme Court on
the ground that the marriage certificate was not in line with Form E as
provided by the Marriage Act.”
Harrison said following the Supreme
Court decision in Anyaegbunam Vs Anyaegbunam, 1973 3 ECSLR 243, it was trite
that the local and state governments could not make separate arrangements
outside that provided for in the Marriage Act Form E.
Reacting to the judgement, the Director
of Press, Ministry of Interior, Mr. Willie Bassey, said it was a welcome
development, urging local government areas to comply forthwith.

“The judgement is in conformity with the
law and the Constitution and we expect the local government areas to comply
with it immediately,” he said, adding that the ministry would soon role out an
enforcement strategy.

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