March 5, 2021

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Stop Issuing Marriage Certificates, Rivers Court Registrars Tell Customary Court

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Local Government Marriage Registrars in Rivers State haveurged the state customary court of appeal to desist from contracting and issuing marriage certificates to couples as they have no right to do so.
This was made know to TNN during a one day interactive forum between the Women Educators Association of Nigeria and the Local Government Marriage Registrars, Rivers State chapter, organized by MIRA Services Crest.
The event was centred on recognizing the importance of data generation, documentation of traditional and customary marriages on the promotion of peace and grassroots sustainable development. It also considered the conduct and registration of marriages in Nigeria.
Reading out their position to newsmen in an interview, Mrs. Joy R Chinda made known their input in the amendment of the constitution and the Marriage Act that is for public hearing at the National Assembly.
According to her, “all marriage registration is the exclusive right of the local government council which includes marriage under the Act and the issuance of marriage certificates. No parastatal or government ministries or agencies have right to conduct and or register marriages.
“That the Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal has no right to contract or issue marriage certificates as they have the exclusive power to adjudicate among others on customary marriage cause. That Local Government Marriage Registries have data of all the marriages contracted /registered.
“That there should be a continuation from Customary law Marriage to Statutory Marriage which can be adequately handled by the local government marriage registries. That registration of marriage does not necessarily mean only record keeping but includes conduct / celebration of marriage.
“That licence of place of religious place of worship for conduct of marriage is a delegated responsibility shared by the Federal Ministry of Interior and the Permanent Secretary of State in charge of marriages (Ministry of Local Government Affairs).”
Also speaking, the convener, Mrs. Sylvia Briggs stated that “the essence of this interface is to do a discussion around the importance of data collection in the promotion of peace and sustainability grass root development, so we have collectively talked about why it is important and how it promotes peace.
“When we talk about customary marriages, you know it encourages polygamy, including Islamic marriage encourage polygamy, now if they want to conduct statutory marriage, maybe for a lot of reasons, maybe for travel, visa arrangement and other things, they don’t really recognize, they don’t have a record that is Nationally recognized, so, there is a gap in that area. Who are you presenting, is it the first, second, third or fourth wife, wife.
“Now, with what is on the table of National Assembly concerning the review of marriages, the need has been identified for other religious body like the Islamic sect to register, to have a unified register for marriages become imperative.
“When we have this data we can maintain peace in the family, community, because we can say with certainty that so so and so person is the first wife of so, so and so person. So when we have that record with the Marriage registrar at the Local Government level who are the closet people to the community, to the grassroots, it will enable them intervene when the need arises to bring about peace.”
Speaking of how they intend to take the awareness to the grassroots considering those who are not educated in the society, Mrs Briggs said, “that is one of the reason for this interface, that is the work of the local government marriage registrar and NGO’s like this, so we are going to have a wider consultation with the people of the community that local government is closer to and have a sensitization on the need to register marriages.
“You must have your marriage documented, registered at the National level, that is what we are mandated to do, grassroots that will send to the national.”

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