Is your married solenized at the Ikoyi Registry or any other federal registry? You nowhave a reason to start checking your marital status.
Or so says a new Federal High Court ruling.
The court, sitting in Lagos and presided over by Justice D. E. Osiagor, has ruled as invalid and illegal, all marriage solemnisation conducted at the Ikoyi marriage registry, Lagos or any other federal marriage registries across the country.
The court, which also ordered the closure of all federal marriage registries, ruled that only council areas have the statutory power to solemnise unions as provided for by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
According to the judge, the acts of the federal government, through the Ministry of Interior, operating marriage registries was beyond their powers. He therefore, ruled that all marriages conducted by federal marriage registries or through their agents were illegal and invalid, adding that all federal marriage registries opened by the ministry, including that of Ikoyi marriage registry, should be closed with immediate effect.
The judgement is coming on the heels of legal disagreement between council areas and federal government over the determination of who, between the two levels, has the power to operate marriage registries, conduct marriages and issue marriage certificates.
In their part, the council areas insisted that the federal government, through the ministry of Interior, usurped their powers to register marriages, as statutorily stated by the constitution. In particular, Eti-Osa council area of Lagos state went to court, where it sought an order of the court to take over the popular Ikoyi Marriage Registry being operated by the Ministry of Interior, on the grounds that the federal government, through the ministry, had no business operating a marriage registry.
Marked FHC/ LS/CS/816/18, the suit had the Ministry of Interior and Attorney General of the Federation as defendants, accusing the ministry of usurping the local government power to conduct marriages and issue marriage certificates.
The council area also prayed the court to, among others, declare that the federal government has no business in conducting marriages and or issuing marriage certificates. To wit, it prayed te court to order the closure of all marriage registries opened and operated by the Federal Ministry of Interior or through their agents, including that of the Ikoyi registry.
With the ruling, the court agreed with the council area and subsequently resolved that only council areas have statutory authority over conduct of marriage and or issuing of marriage certificates.
Remarkably, this is the second ruling on the matter. On Thursday, May 17, 2018, Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor of the same court, ordered Ikoyi registry to desist from conducting marriages. In its ruling on suit No: FHC/L/CS/1760/16, the court ussued a restraining order against Ikoyi registry, barring it from conducting marriages, insisting it was unconstitutional for the federal government to perform the duties of the state and local governments.
“We are going to use every available platform in the five divisions across the state to sensitise our people and inform them about this latest development – from Epe to Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja and Lagos Island,” Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami, said of the judgment which he pointed out will be communicated to all stakeholders, including the embassies