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TheCable

‘You pay for pen, drinks’ — couples recount tales of extortion, bribery at Ikoyi registry

‘You pay for pen, drinks’ — couples recount tales of extortion, bribery at Ikoyi registry
July 05
11:21 2021

Some couples who got married at the federal marriage registry, Ikoyi, Lagos state, have recounted their experiences with officials who extort and force them to pay bribes while applying for statutory licences and during the weddings.

An investigation published by TheCable had exposed how corrupt officials of Ikoyi marriage registry, often touted as Nigeria’s most patronised registry, charge prospective couples above the official application fee and divert millions of naira into their personal bank accounts.

After the publication of the story, more applicants spoke to TheCable on how they were exploited by officials of the registry and made to part with more money after their certificates were withheld. Some took to social media to express their displeasure over the systemic corruption at the federal agency.

Funmi, an applicant who got married just weeks ago at Ikoyi, said she paid N45,000 into the personal accounts of one of the officials for a special marriage application. Then, she paid another N60,000 for a change of venue.

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In June 2020, the federal government reduced marriage registration fees and implementation began on July 1, 2020. A statutory ordinary marriage, which is between two Nigerians was reduced from N21,000 to N15,000, while the statutory special marriage, which happens when one partner is non-Nigerian, was reduced from N35,000 to N25,000.

“We had to pay N45,000 because it was a special marriage since I have dual citizenship, then we wanted a private ceremony which is basically a change of venue. We had to pay an additional N60,000 for that into the personal account of one of the workers even though it states on the price list it’s N30,000” Funmi told TheCable.

“We then had to pay for the registrar’s Uber fees from the registry to the place of ceremony and from the place of the ceremony back to her house. My husband and I do not live in Nigeria and we would have to come do oath swearing, etc. We had a short period of time in Nigeria and this was termed ‘fast track’. I think we were also exploited because they knew we didn’t live in Nigeria and that automatically translates to money.”

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In August, Mayowa Agunsoye was asked to pay N37,000 by an official of Ikoyi registry to “fast track” the process, but he was able to bargain well and eventually paid N27,000. While sharing his experience with TheCable, he said he had to return to Ikoyi after paying N21,000 to apply for a marriage certificate at a local government registry in the Oniru area of the state and was told that a licence from the LGA will not be recognised by embassies and international organisations.

“Ikoyi refused to accept my Oniru registration and I was asked to start over,” Agunsoye said.

“At Ikoyi, you pay for biro, buy drinks for them, pay the joiner, two ladies on a seat at the entrance writing names of couples and assigning their names to a ghost syndicate, exorbitant dress rentals, the parking guys along the road with LASTMA. A colleague of mine, Afolabi Kuforiji, spent even far more than I did.”

To corroborate his colleague’s statement, Kuforiji said: “The worst part was when I was told to pay N3,500 at a particular time. I asked what it was for but they said it’s Saturday morning. I couldn’t negotiate, had to tell my wife to get a POS merchant across the road until the money was completed. And so many other unwanted expenses.”

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In a Twitter chat with Oby, who also got married at the Ikoyi registry on May 20, she said she received a receipt of N15,000 after paying a registration fee of N29,500. She said as of 10 am that she was married and leaving the venue, she heard officials calling on the couple on number 98 in the list.

“Mrs Ade (Ikoyi official) told him (her husband) to pay N29,500, he didn’t negotiate because his cousin had his in April and that was what they paid. There was no receipt issued or given. It was when I insisted because I know the government-approved price and knew he was extorted, the woman gave him a printout boldly written N15,000,” she said.

“After we were joined, the lady asked for offering and we put together N1500 (my witnesses and couple); she said it’s too small. She seized our certificate and asked us to go and bring money, while whispering in my ear ‘your husband bu aka gum’ meaning your husband is stingy in Igbo. We made use of POS and gave her N2,000 naira including the N1,500, so that’s N3,500 in total. She repeated it, ‘your husband bu aka gum’.”

Tobiloba Kanmi wrote: “What baffles me is getting there at 6 am and I was given number 105.”

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Melon usk wrote: “Bought 2 pens each at 200 naira per pen or so. I refused to drop mine. I realized they were recycling the pens and I wasn’t having that nonsense.”

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Seun Oreks wrote: “Paid N29,500 and still dashed the woman extra N2,500. If you go online to register yourself, dem go stress ur life on ur wedding day by saying they can’t find ur files.”

James Mulero wrote: “You forgot to include the compulsory offering they collect after the joining.”

Alexis Chuks wrote: “Well, I paid about N75k for my wedding; so guess my own situation is worse.”

Milanista wrote: “I paid about ₦37,000 (cash) here. Massive extortion going on at Ikoyi registry.”

Olori of Lagos wrote: “These people are making money o! I paid 27,500 or 29,500 tho.”

Boss Lady wrote: “What the officials are making is more than that. My daughter paid almost 100k on her wedding day.”

Akinsowon Joseph Akanni also wrote: “I paid 35k to get their license.”

Anxious, another Twitter user, wrote: “Ikoyi is just a cash making point; every counter you go to, they’ll ask you for something (bribe).. got to a point I was considering Ikeja instead.

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