Local Government Marriage Registrars have said that the Nigerian constitution empowered local government councils to register all types of marriages in the country.
They stated that marriage matters are the exclusive local government affairs in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
Rising from a national conference held in Abuja Thursday, the LG marriage registrars advised worship centres and foreign embassies in the country to disregard the circular from the Ministry of Interior directing them to recognize only marriage certificates from Federal marriage registries.
Reading a communique at the end of the conference attended by local government registrars from across the country, National President, Body of Marriage Registrars, Deji Sokeye, accused the interior ministry and some state ministries of taking away the functions of the LGs to register marriages.
Sokeye called on the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola to direct the Permanent Secretary and staff in the ministry to “close down their illegal marriage registries being run by a private firm, Anchor Dataware Solutions Ltd.
“Apart from its illegality, based on relevant Nigerian legal framework, the contract between the ministry and the firm is being operated in a manner that creates an avenue for corruption to thrive in view of the sharing ratio of fund collected on behalf of the ministry of interior by the private company,” he stated.
The registrars said, “It is sad, worrying and damaging to the country’s image that some people in the ministry of interior caused a letter to be written to some foreign embassies in Nigeria denouncing the constitutional rights of local government councils to register marriages and misrepresenting to and arrogating to the ministry of interior the powers to register marriages.
“This is sad. The ministry of interior had no such powers to register marriages and should refrain from act that may further damage Nigeria’s image within the comity of nations.
The body called on the Secretary to Government of the Federation, interior minister, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the National Assembly and state governments to urge to take steps to stop the interior ministry and other state governments from further setting up or operating illegal marriage registration activities in the country.
The communique further stated, “It is an elementary knowledge that marriage matters are exclusive local government affairs in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
“Nigeria got her independence from Great Britain and up till date, marriage matters remain exclusively matters for the boroughs which are the local governments in that country.
“In the US and Canada, marriage matters are handled by the counties which are the local governments. Same goes for African countries like Ghana, Gambia, Liberia and Benin, neighbouring West African countries to Nigeria; Marriages are registered at the local level in these countries.
“It is on this wisdom that the Nigerian constitution empowers the local governments to register all types of marriages with no exception,” the registrars stressed.