The Federal Government has said marriage certificates not issued in accordance with statutory marriage guidelines are invalid and holds no legal value in case of any problem in the relationship.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior Mrs. Georgina Ehuriah spoke at a one-day stakeholders’ workshop on “the conduct of statutory marriage in Nigeria.”
The workshop held in Port Harcourt for the Southsouth and Southeast zones yesterday.
Mrs. Ehuriah noted that most marriage certificates issued in the country were mere paper with no legal importance in divorce cases.
She said: “…the workshop has become important to sensitise and educate the public on the need to insist on the conduct of marriages according to the stipulated statutory marriage guideline of the country. The truth is that most of the things couples are holding as marriage certificates as issued by churches, and some other marriage centres are not valid and hold no legal value in courts in case of divorce; and it is the women who suffer it because they will lose everything.”
Mrs. Ehuriah explained that marriage and worship centres, which conduct marriages without due licence by the Ministry of Interior were issuing illegal certificates that were worth nothing.
The permanent secretary noted that of 4,725 marriage and worship centres that had updated their records with the ministry, only 314 renewed their licenses to conduct statutory marriages and issue legally-valid certificates.
“Presently, only about 4,725 licensed places of worship in Nigeria have updated their records with the Ministry of Interior, of which only 314 have renewed their licences to conduct statutory marriages. The implication is that any certificate not printed and delivered by the Principal Registrar of Marriages is illegal and cannot serve the desired purposes,” she added.
Mrs. Ehuriah, however, urged churches to meet requirements set by the ministry to serve their members better.
“Accordingly, administrators of places of worship are urged to meet these requirements in order to better serve their members. The ministry is presently building a database of all statutory marriages conducted in Nigeria. It has also developed a database of all places of worship licensed for celebration of marriages.”