4,000 divorce cases in 2 months: Which way family values?

Between January and now, a total of 4, 000 divorce applications were reportedly filed before various courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). But is the figure a reality or over-bloated, TOPE SUNDAY seeks answer in this report. 

Before now, divorce was hardly discussed in public in Nigeria. It was seen and tagged as a taboo and unfit for public discourse. However, the reverse is now becoming the trend as marriage, which the holy Quran and holy Bible described as the perfection of one’s religious life is now being dreaded by some marriageable age Nigerians.  

In His show of love for marriage, Allah said in Surah an-Nur, 24: 32 that: “And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.”

Also, the holy Bible in Ephesians 5:25 stated that, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” Also, Genesis 2:24 stated that, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

In what appears as total disobedience to the commandment of God and His avowed love for marriage institution, divorce cases keep rising on a daily basis across the country.

The damming FCT figures

Even though divorce is not new, the 4, 000 applications filed before various courts in the FCT between January and February, this year, has opened a can of worms.

On Friday, February 21, 2020, and an Abuja-based lawyer identified as Annebrafa raised the alarm that there are 4, 000 divorce applications in Abuja already. The lawyer, who tweeted via her twitter handles @Sandraorokodo, lamented that it is really much considering that the year is barely two months old.

“4, 000 divorce applications in Abuja already and the year just started. Some of these marriages are less than a year old. What is really happening?”

Though her claim had been countered by some Nigerians who expressed doubts about it, her outburst, according to pundits, should not be discarded. According to them, her claim is a pointer to the fact that the marriage institution in Nigeria is experiencing crisis.

Cases in other states

In a report published in 2018, a total of 3, 000 divorce cases were recorded in Badagry, a Lagos community. Also, in a report titled, “Deciphering the high rate of divorce in Nigeria,” which was written by Umar Yakubu in 2019, Kano state alone had over one million registered divorcees.

Yakubu, who is of the Counter-Fraud Centre, said in the report that, “Just like fake news, divorce rates seem to be on the rise, trending mostly in the northern towns of Kano, Zaria, Katsina and Bauchi. A quick survey from open sources, interviews and, primarily, discussions and observations from close circles of relations, indicate a disturbing surge of divorced and unhappy women who are blindly and surely grouping under several torn and unreliable umbrellas.”

Myth or reality?

Though as at the time of filing in this report, there was not any available data to determine the actual number of divorce cases in Nigeria, a check by Blueprint Weekend revealed that figure branded by the Abuja-based lawyer could be true.

A visit to the Social Development Secretariat, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) by this reporter revealed that a total of 20 to 30 cases of divorce are reported at one of the offices daily.

When this reporter visited the office located at Area 10, Garki, Abuja, on Wednesday and Thursday, this week, no director at the Gender and Social Developments was available for comments, but a senior staff of the secretariat who did not want his name in print because he was not authorised to comment on the issue, said the figure could be true.

According to him, at least 30 cases of divorce are reported at the secretariat on a daily basis.  He, however, clarified that the secretariat only counsels the warring couples on the need to allow their marriages to work.

The source directed Blueprint Weekend to the FCT Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response Team, an office within the secretariat that handles divorce cases and other gender abuses, but efforts made to speak with both the administrative and programme officers proved abortive as the duo said they were not permitted to speak with the press without official letter from the secretary of the secretariat directing them to do so.

However, a source within the secretariat told this medium that FCT is experiencing divorce tsunami, saying that a total of 30 cases of troubled marriages are reported at the secretariat on a daily basis.

The source listed communication gap, poverty and lies as some of the factors responsible for rising cases of divorce.

“Let me correct this impression, we are not the court who grants divorce, what we do is to counsel the couple on how to maintain their marriages and live in peace, but if they are not ready for amicable settlement, we will tell them to proceed with the divorce.

“But while I am not confirming the figure you just quoted, the rate at which people are seeking divorce these days is alarming. In our secretariat, very close to 30 cases of divorce are reported daily, and as government officials, we provide them counselling on the need for them to make peace with each other.  

When asked what could be responsible for the rising cases of divorce, the source said: “From what we gathered, lies, poverty and communication gap are major factors responsible for this act. Some couples built their love on lies. Also, communication among couples is very key, but this is lacking some of the marriages. From our findings, communication gap is another problem threatening some marriages. Also, poverty is another monster that is destroying marriages.

“A man that cannot provide for his family is worth than an infidel. So, some men can’t provide the basis needs of their wives and from our findings, some wives can’t bear this and in return, they will file for divorce.  

Also, male staff with the secretariat, who craved anonymity, told Blueprint Weekend that the 4, 000 divorce applications as branded by an Abuja lawyer could also be true, saying in his area around Lokogoma area of the FCT, he knows at least 20 single mothers. This, he said, is worrisome.

“My brother, this figure could be true. I know of no fewer than 20 single mothers in my Estate in Lokogoma. Those ladies are living very comfortably and they may not need any man to be their crown. So, if in an estate, we have up to 20 single mothers who can tell the number of divorcees in the entire FCT,” he said. 

God detests divorce

Both Islam and Christianity do not encourage divorce and God, the maker of all mankind, detests divorce in all fronts.

Based on Quran, God discourages divorce and encourages the continuation of marriage. Striving to preserve marriage is a duty for both husband and wife, even in extreme cases of misbehavior (4:34, 4:128). The discouragement of divorce is understood in the light of 2:226-227 where a 4-month cooling off period is issued before considering the decision of separation, in 4:35 where it is decreed that an arbitrator from each side should be appointed to try to reconcile the couple, in 4:22-23, where God is stating that unlawful marriages (out of ignorance) are not to be broken, in 2:232 where it states that reconciling after divorce is purer and more righteous choice, and in 2:229 where two chances are given to the divorced couple to get back together.

Divorce, however, is decreed by God for the believers in exceptional circumstances when all attempts of resolving disputes between the spouses are failing. There have been a lot of abuse and violation of God’s laws when it comes to divorce.

Also, in Matthew 5:31-32, it is written: “It has been said, ‘anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Also, Mark 10:2-12 said: “Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?  What did Moses command you?” he replied.  They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away. It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”


An Abuja resident, Malam Abubakar Issa, told Blueprint Weekend that the lack of patience is one of the factors responsible for the rising cases of divorce, and called on the couples to wear the toga of patience in order for their marriages to last.

“There are two to three factors involved. One, there is impatience and worldly things are involved. The women or men lied at the commencement of their marriages. May be you told the woman you what to marry, I am a son of a very wealthy Nigerian, but by the time she came to your house, there was nothing to confirm what you told her. She will find a way to go out.

“Secondly, by the time you married a woman you have the whole world, but when she came home, she did not see anything. She will look for divorce.

“But patience is the principal actor. Like in those days, we used to see our parents together and you will not know whether they were quarrelling or not. Our mother was so contended with what our father brought for them that they would manage it.

“Our generation is not patient, if I am used to giving my wife N10, 000, but tomorrow, I come and give her N1, 000 she will not manage it.”

Also, Ms Esther Johnson said lies and fake lifestyle are two major factors responsible for increasing divorce rate and called on the Pastors to rise to the challenges.

“Though, I am not aware of the figure you just told me, there is an alarming rate of divorce in Nigeria now. You are talking about the FCT; do you know what is happening in other states? We are sitting on a time bomb. Marriages are collapsing on a daily basis due to lies and fake lifestyles.

“In this case, both male and female are guilty of this. Most of the relationships that later culminated into marriages were started with lies. Some men will lie to women that they will do this and that for them, but in the true sense, they know they do not have the capacity, such women upon discovery, will look for a way to move out of the marriage,” she said. 

On his part, Mohammed Nasir blamed parents for the rising trend of divorce, saying some of the parents did not teach their children what Allah and the Prophet said about marriage. According to him, some parents encourage their children not to tolerate their spouses’ deficiencies.

“I am not a pessimist, but without sounding like an alarmist, the cases of divorce will be rising in Nigeria until parents teach their children what Allah and His Prophet (SAW) said about marriage. Marriage is so dear to God and He commanded all Muslims to get married.

“God said if you have the means, you can marry more than one wives. But our parents are not teaching their female children this. They are the ones telling them not to tolerate their spouses’ excesses and deficiencies. Parents should tell their children how to keep their marriages and endure anything that comes from it. Life is in two phases, the good and the bad.”

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