Court null and void Marriage certificates issued by LGs are illegal

A Lagos High Court has barred Local Government from issuing marriage certificate saying it is unlawful and unconstitutional and the Court also barred local government areas from conducting marriages across the country declaring that the Local Government Unified Marriage Certificate was unknown to law and therefore null and void.
This was declared by Justice I. O. Harrison of Court 37, General Civil Division of the Lagos Judicial Division, on May 15, 2017, in suit no LD/1343GCM/2016, in which the plaintiff, Olamide Babalola, dragged the Ikeja Local Government and Registered Trustees of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria before the court over the modified marriage certificate issued by the first and second defendants.

Babalola sought a declaration that the first defendant did not have the powers to issue modified or customised marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E under Section 24 of the Marriage Act Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and prayed for a declaration that the Local Government Unified Marriage Certificate was unknown to law and unconstitutional.

He equally prayed for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, officers, employees and representatives from further issuing modified or altered marriage certificates apart from the form as provided under Form E (1st schedule) and Section 24 of the Marriage Act, LFN, 1990.

Citing Imunze vs Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2014 LPELR 22354 (SC) and Onochie vs Odogwu, 2006 Nigeria Weekly Law Report, (Part 975) 65, Harrison, in her judgment, declared that the first defendant did not have the powers to issue modified or customised marriage certificates different from the one provided in Form E under section 24 of the Marriage Act.

She stated that while registration of marriage is regulated by local government being under the concurrent list, formation of marriage is under the exclusive list within the domain of the Federal Government regulated by the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs-item 6 of 2nd schedule of 1999 constitution adding that a marriage had been declared invalid by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was not in line with Form E as provided by the Marriage Act.

“The court thus orders as follows: declaration that the second defendant’s ‘Local Government Unified Marriage Certificate’ is unknown to our law, unconstitutional, null and void.

“A perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants their agents, officers, employees and representatives from further issuing modified or altered marriage certificates apart from the form as provided under Form E (1st schedule) and Section 24 of the Marriage Act, LFN, 1990.

“A perpetual injunction, restraining the second defendant, their agents, officers, employees and representatives from further issuing Modified Local Government Unified Marriage Certificates.
“It is thus trite that the local and state government cannot make separate arrangements outside that provided for in the Marriage Act, that is Form E.”

The court however added that it “believes that there should be a re-issuance of the proper certificate to all persons in possession of the ‘invalid’ certificates” saying the marriages conducted by local governments and issued with the certificates, which are not in conformity with Form E, “will by virtue of Section 34 of the Marriage Act be regarded as good and valid in law to all intents and purposes.

“The court will further consequentially order that all such modified marriage certificates issued by the first and second defendants be surrendered to the appropriate local government where the marriage was conducted and appropriate certificate, in line with Form E, should be re-issued to the claimants herein and all other concerned persons.”

STP

 

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