Civil society bodies urge FG to reverse directives on marriage licensing
Civil Society Organisations (CSO) under the aegis of Foundation For African Cultural Heritage (FACH) have called on the Federal Government to immediately rescind its directives to the effect that henceforth married couples, worship centres and churches shall be made to pay a sum of N51, 000 with a breakdown of marriage certificate N21, 000 while licensing of place of worship is N30, 000 before a statutory marriage is performed.
Addressing a press conference titled: ‘No To Licencing of Marriage by Federal Government’ in Lagos yesterday, the Director of FACH, Mr Sonny Ekwowusi described the directives through the office of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as worrisome and disturbing. He said the development would further push the stressed youths into serious moral crises and economic pressure.
He said, “FACH is vehemently opposed to the unilateral imposition of the sum of N51, 000 as licences payable in order to conduct statutory marriages in Nigeria. Not only are the licences arbitrary and capriciously imposed without consultation with veritable stakeholders, it is also in violation of section 7(5) of the 1999 Constitution and sections 6(1) (2), 21, 24, 30, 36, 37, 38 of the Marriage Act, which does not empower the ministry to impose such for the conduct of marriage.”
Ekwowusi stated that section 7 (5) of the constitution vests the registration of all births, death, and marriages solely on the local governments area and not Federal Government.
“It is our view that is legally wrong for the ministry to exercise the sole right to grant licences to couples, churches, Mosques and public place of worship for celebration of marriage under the Marriage Act,” he said.
He added that the lingering legal battles between the Ministry of Interior and local government over the right to conduct, celebrate, register marriages and issue marriage certificates is all based on the current policy of the ministry.
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