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HomeMetro NewsAppeal Court affirms Ikoyi Registry, Local Government's rights to conduct marriages in...

Appeal Court affirms Ikoyi Registry, Local Government’s rights to conduct marriages in Nigeria

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The Lagos division of the Court of Appeal has ruled that both the Minister of Interior and local government councils hold the lawful authority to conduct, celebrate, contract, and register marriages within their respective jurisdictions in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Act.

The court’s decision serves as a cautionary measure against any further attempts by either party to assert exclusive rights over the conduct and registration of statutory marriages.

In a verdict delivered on August 2, 2023, the Court of Appeal also invalidated the restriction imposed by the Federal High Court, Lagos, which limited the Minister of Interior’s role to marriages held only at specific marriage registries in Ikoyi, Lagos, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Abubakar Sadiq Umar, delivering the lead judgment, alongside Jimi Olukayode Bada (presiding) and Fredrick Eziakpono Oho, articulated the court’s position.

The ruling followed an earlier case where, on December 8, 2021, a judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos, Daniel Osiagor granted an order of perpetual injunction against the Minister of Interior from conducting marriages within certain local government councils.

The order, however, excluded marriages conducted at the designated registries in Ikoyi and Abuja.

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The legal dispute was initiated by Eti-Osa Local Government, Lagos State; Egbor Local Government, Edo State; Owerri Municipal Local Government, Imo State; and Port Harcourt City Local Government, collectively challenging the Minister of Interior, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Anchor Dataware Solution Limited.

The plaintiffs sought to prevent the Minister of Interior from performing marriage-related functions within their respective local government areas.

Osiagor granted some of the requested reliefs while rejecting others. The case was subsequently appealed, leading to the current decision by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal clarified that the doctrine of res judicata, which prevents the same issue from being litigated multiple times, does not apply in this case. The court maintained that the plaintiffs’ action was aimed at enforcing a previous judgment, and therefore, the doctrine of res judicata was not relevant.

Regarding the interpretation of marriage districts, the Court of Appeal emphasized that local government councils are recognized venues for the celebration and registration of marriages under the Marriage Act.

The court held that both the Minister of Interior and local government councils have the authority to conduct, celebrate, and contract marriages, in compliance with the relevant legal provisions.

Consequently, the Court of Appeal’s decision underscores the shared authority of the Minister of Interior and local government councils in matters of marriage registration and celebration, dismissing any notion of exclusive rights by either party.

The judgment highlights the importance of harmonizing legal interpretations to ensure consistent and lawful execution of marriage-related functions across jurisdictions.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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