It was a silent moment at the High Court of Lagos State when a competent court of jurisdiction declares to the open court gallery that Local Government in all the strata of Lagos State do not have authority, power and constitutional flavor to conduct marriage and issue marriage certificate to the public.
Under the presiding Justice of the court, Justice I.O. Harrison of Court 37, of the probate section of General Civil Division of the Igbosere Judicial division of the state in Lagos Island, Obalende, Lagos.
In the Court judgment, the Hon. Judge declared that the Local Government Unified Marriage Certificate was unconstitutional, unmeritorious, unknown to Lagos State law, lacks judicial marriage flavor and henceforth null and void.
A Certified True Copy (CTC) of the court judgment signed and endorsed by the Court with suit no: LD/1343GCM/2016 dated 15 May 2017 from Court 37, disclosed as follows:
Mr. Olamide Babalola, the petitioner announced his appearance and represented himself and other parties of modified marriage certificates from the local governments, sued the Ikeja Local Government and Registered Trustees of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria before the High Court over the modified marriage certificate issued by the first and second Respondents parties.
The Petitioner prayed the Court to declare that the first Respondent party did not have the constitutional authority and powers to issue marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E under Section 24 of the Marriage Act Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
The Petitioner urged the Court for a declaration that the second Respondent’s Local Government Unified Marriage Certificate was unlawful and unconstitutional.
He equally wanted a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, officers, employees and representatives from further issuing modified or altered marriage certificates apart from the form as provided under Form E (1st schedule) and Section 24 of the Marriage Act, LFN, 1990.
The Hon. Court after several hearing of the matter and adjournment, finally gave the Court judgment over the matter as follows:
“The court thus orders as follows: declaration that the second 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 or altered marriage certificates apart from the form as provided under Form E (1st schedule) and Section 24 of the Marriage Act, LFN, 1990.
“A perpetual injunction, restraining the second defendant, their agents, officers, employees and representatives from further issuing Modified Local Government Unified Marriage Certificates.”
The Hon. Court cited the case authority guiding the circumstance of the case and in pari material to the case before the court in the case of Imunze vs Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2014 LPELR 22354 (SC) and Onochie vs Odogwu, 2006 Nigeria Weekly Law Report, (Part 975) 65, the Hon. Court adumbrated that while registration of marriage is regulated by local government being under the concurrent list, formation of marriage is under the exclusive list within the domain of the Federal Government regulated by the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs-item 6 of 2nd schedule of 1999 constitution.
The Hon. Court pointed out that a marriage had been declared invalid by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was not in line with Form E as provided by the Marriage Act.
“It is thus trite that the local and state government cannot make separate arrangements outside that provided for in the Marriage Act, that is Form E”.
The court however added that the marriages conducted by local governments and issued with the certificates, which are not in conformity with Form E,
“will by virtue of Section 34 of the Marriage Act be regarded as good and valid in law to all intents and purposes.”
“believes that there should be a re-issuance of the proper certificate to all persons in possession of the ‘invalid’ certificates.”
“The court will further consequentially order that all such modified marriage certificates issued by the first and second defendants be surrendered to the appropriate local government where the marriage was conducted and appropriate certificate, in line with Form E, should be reissued to the claimants herein and all other concerned persons.”
“Most of the marriages conducted by local government registries are sham and were merely used to obtain visas by desperate Nigerians. We have written to the embassies not to give out visas based on such marriage certificates,”
The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken a bold step to enforce the Court judgment by written to the various embassies in the country not to recognize marriages conducted by local governments in the country.
Nigerians were further urged to patronize the recognized institution for marriage registration and certificate