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Court did not nullify Ikoyi registry weddings, says FG

Court did not nullify Ikoyi registry weddings, says FG
December 14
19:08 2021

The ministry of interior says the reports that a federal high court sitting in Lagos has nullified all weddings conducted by the Ikoyi marriage registry are “false and misleading”.

The Eti Osa LGA of Lagos state had in a suit marked FHC/LS/CS/816/18 taken the ministry of interior to court challenging its power to operate marriage registries, conduct weddings and issue marriage certificates.

Giving judgment, a federal high court in Lagos had ruled that the LG councils are statutorily responsible for issuing marriage certificates in Nigeria.

The development had sparked reactions, with several media reports claiming that the court nullified all weddings conducted by the Ikoyi marriage registry.

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However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the ministry of interior said the reported annulment of weddings conducted by the registry is a “deliberate distortion” of the court’s decision.

“The attention of the Ministry of Interior has been drawn to news making the rounds on social media claiming that the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has declared all Marriages conducted by Ikoyi marriage registry to be illegal and invalid,” the statement reads.

“We would like to state that this statement is false, misleading and a deliberate distortion of the decision of the Court in Suit No:FHC/L/CS/816/18 between Eti-Osa Local Government Council & 3 others v. Honourable Minister of Interior and 2 others, where the Honourable Court held that only the Local Government councils can conduct valid marriages in Nigeria.”

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The ministry cited a previous in decision of a federal high court in Ikoyi with suit no. FHC/L/870/2002 between Prince Haastrup and Eti Osa local government wherein the court held that “the federal government, through the ministry of interior, is constitutionally empowered to conduct marriages in Nigeria and that the local governments were delegated by the federal government to conduct marriages, by virtue of legal notices issued pursuant to the Marriage Act.

Shuaib Belgore, permanent secretary, ministry of interior, and principal registrar of marriages, said instead of appealing the court decision, Eti Osa LG went on to file another suit HC/L/CS/1760/16, which he said was dismissed for being an abuse of court processes.

“Further to the above, the current decision of the federal high court delivered by Hon. Justice D. E. Osiagor of Court 6, cannot set aside a previous decision of the same court, which is of coordinate jurisdiction, as that would amount to the court sitting on appeal over its own judgment,” Belgore said.

“In the circumstances, the federal government through the ministry of interior, has applied for a certified true copy of the judgement and will take appropriate further action including but not limited to filing of an appeal in respect of this conflicting and confusing decision, in line with the provisions of the constitution.

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“We would like to appeal to the general public, the international community, to couples who had hitherto had their marriages solemnised at federal marriage registries by duly licensed places of worship and to all intending couples to be calm and continue transacting their normal businesses at all federal marriage registries subsisting throughout the federation in line with statutory and constitutional provisions.

“The general public is to please note the foregoing and maintain status quo ante.”

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