… says rights to conduct marriages reside with local councils

By Adeyinka Aderibigbe

The Lagos State Government has expressed the readiness to enforce the Federal High Court judgment restraining the Federal Government owned Ikoyi Registry from conducting marriages and issuing certificates.

The Court, sitting in Lagos, said it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to be usurping the power of the state and local governments to conduct marriages.

It was the second time the Lagos State Government would be securing such injunction, the first being in 2004.

The judgment delivered on Monday April 30, 2018, by Professor Chuka Aunstine Obiozor in a suit no: FHC/L/CS/1760/16 of Lagos High Court in favour of Lagos State, reaffirmed that all the marriage registries in the Local Government and Local Council Development Areas in Lagos are the authentic and legally-binding government division established to carry out such function.

Addressing a press conference on the development on Thursday, the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami said the Ministry would officially communicate the development to the various Embassies in the State, stressing that the decision of the court is supreme and is legally binding on all, the embassies inclusive.

He said: “the press conference was necessary to intimate the various Embassies resident in Lagos State, the general public and the country at large that all marriages conducted and registered in any of the 57 local Government Areas/ Local Council Development Areas are valid and in accordance with the Marriage Act.”

He said the judgment would undoubtedly put a stop to the seeming perception of superiority of Ikoyi Marriage Registry over the Local Government Registries.

Folami said the state government would explore every available windows to enlighten the general public about the development, assuring that the Ministry will not hesitate to schedule meeting with all the embassies in the State to enlighten them about the new judgment if the need arise.

“We are going to embark on sensitization walk using the five divisions across the state to sensitize our people and inform them about this latest development. From Ikorodu to Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe to create awareness and let the people know of this latest development,” Folami said.

He congratulated the efforts of the Management of the various Local Governments and specifically the Marriage Registrars in the LGAs/LCDAs and urged the members of the public to take cognizance of this landmark judgment by patronizing the legal and approved Marriage Registries for the conduct of their Marriages.

The President of the Lagos State Marriage Registrars Mr Deji Sokeye described the judgment as a landmark, saying the responsibilities of the LGAs/LCDAs has come back to them by the virtue of the law and as provided for in Section 30 (1) of the Marriage Act and Section 7 (5) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said the illegal use of power by the Ikoyi Registry had seriously and negatively affected the revenue drive of the various councils in the State, maintaining that the judgment would further restore hope and confidence in the certificates being issued by the local government.

He recalled that a similar judgment was delivered in favour of the state government in 2004 but was disregarded by the Federal Government, stressing that the similar judgment now delivered by Justice (Prof) Chuka Austine Obiozor shows the disposition of the current administration to the rule of law.

Sokeye disclosed that the State Government have devised another means of authenticating its seal which now carry red seal with a coded block for all the Council Areas across the State.

Speaking on the authenticity of existing marriage certificates obtained from the local council areas before the new judgment, the president explained that the new certificates that would henceforth be issued by the various council areas does not invalidate the previous certificates.

“There is nothing wrong with the former certificates that did not carry the Red Seal, the Red Seal is just an innovation to the former one and it does not in any way render the former one invalid,’’ he said.