Christian religious leaders across the country have decried the move by the Federal Government to commence the licensing of places of worship for celebration of marriages as well as issuing of marriage certificates. They claim that the Ministry of Interior under whose auspices the directive was issued, lacks the constitutional power to license a place of worship for fixed fees. They have therefore vowed to mobilize their members across the country to challenge the constitutionality of the move which they said was an indirect attempt by the FG to regulate churches in the country. The Ministry of Interior had issued a directive that henceforth married couples, worship centres and churches shall be made to pay the sum of N21,000 (for marriage certificate), while places of worship are to pay a tax of N30,000 renewable every year before performing marriages in the Church. This development has also elicited wide condemnation by Civil Society Organizations under the aeges of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH). The group which issued a statement recently entitled, ‘No to licensing of marriages by the Federal Government,’ wondered why couples and worship centres should be made to pay such a heavy sum which is tantamount to commercialisation of what should ordinarily be the right of the citizens. The group, while expressing their strong opposition to, what they considered as unilateral imposition of the said sums as licenses payable in order to conduct statutory marriages in Nigeria, said the licenses were capriciously imposed without consultation with veritable Nigerian stakeholders. “The licences are in violation of section 7 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and sections 6 (1) (2), 21, 24, 30, 36, 37, 38 of the Marriage Act. Section 6 (1) (2), 21, 24, 30, 36, 37, 38 of the Marriage Act have not empowered the Ministry of Interior to impose the sum of N51,000 for conduct of Statutory Marriages in Nigeria. Section 7 (5) of the 1999 Constitution vests the registration of all births, deaths and marriages solely on the Local Governments Areas in Nigeria and not on the Federal Government.” In its submission, the group, FACH, through its Director, Dr Theresa Okafor, therefore called on the Minister of Interior to rescind the policy which she consider unpopular and capable of causing disaffection and mutual mistrust
between the Ministry of Interior and
the people of Nigeria
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Inte-
rior, determined to find an amica-
ble solution to the controversy, has
constituted a National Committee to
help carry out a review of the Mar-
riage Act and Matrimonial Causes
The Committee headed by Hon.
Nimi Walson-Jack is reaching out to
critical stakeholders such as lawyers
and those involved in Family Law
and Practice to contribute to the
The Terms of Reference of the
A. To study the Marriage Act, Cap
M6, LFN 2004 and the Matrimoni-
al Causes Act, Cap. M7, LFN, 2004,
review the two Acts and bring them
in line with modern realities and pe-
culiarities of Nigeria.
B. To consider a review of the Mar-
riage Act, Cap M6, LFN, 2004, and
the Matrimonial Causes Act, Cap.
M7, LFN, and make appropriate rec-
ommendations for the recognition
of all forms of marriages contracted
in Nigeria given the fact that the Act
as it is does not contemplate Tradi-
tional and Islamic marriages.
C. To study the Report of the
Stakeholders Conference on Con-
duct of Statutory Marriage in Nige-
ria and consider the various recom-
mendations for inclusion in the Bill
to amend the two Acts.
D. To propose the inclusion of new
provisions to make both Acts more
comprehensive and functional.
E. To obtain Memoranda from var-
ious blocs of stakeholders for con-
sideration and possible inclusion in
F. To submit the draft Amendment
Bills on the Marriage Act, Cap M6,
LFN, 2004, and the Matrimonial
Causes Act, Cap. M7, LFN, 2004,
within three (3) months of the inau-
guration of the Committee.
All contributions would be thank-
fully received at nimisoere@yahoo.
co.uk, and forwarded to the Nation-
We look forward to receiving your
valuable comments, suggestions, pro-
posals, and any information you con-
sider relevant to the Review of the Mar-
riage Act and Matrimonial Causes Act.