Court Declares LG-issued Marriage Certificates illegal….

A Lagos high court has barred local government areas from issuing marriage certificates on the ground that they lack the constitutional right to do so. According to Punch, the court, in a judgment on May 15, declared the local government unified marriage certificate null and void, saying it was unknown to law and therefore unconstitutional.
Justice I.O. Harrison, the presiding judge, said that the issuance of modified 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 said that marriage, being on the exclusive list, was under the purview of the federal government and not local government. Olamide Babalola, the plaintiff, had dragged the Ikeja local government and registered trustees of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) before the court over the modified marriage certificate issued by the first and second defendants. He had asked the court to declare that the first defendant did not have the powers to issue modified or customised marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E under Section 24 of the Marriage Act Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 1990. Babalola also prayed for a declaration that the second defendant’s local government unified marriage certificate was 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 ( 1 st schedule) and Section 24 of the Marriage Act , LFN , 1990″. In her judgment, Harrison declared that the first defendant did not have the powers to issue modified or customised marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E under section 24 of the Marriage Act. “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,” she said. “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 ( 1 st 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 judge said 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 ,” Harrison ruled.

As a result of the directive, the federal government has written to the various embassies in the country, not to recognise marriages conducted by local governments.