Abuja – In keeping with its new regulation on the registration of marriages and the need to ensure uniformity in the conduct of statutory marriages across the country, the Federal Government has declared its intention to establish marriage registries in all the 36 state capitals.
Georgina Ehuriah, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, made the disclosure in Port Harcourt, River State, while declaring open a one-day sensitisation conference on the conduct of statutory marriages in Nigeria, with the theme, ‘Achieving Harmonious Compliance in the Conduct of Statutory Marriage in Nigeria’.
She said that arrangements were underway to establish new federal marriage registries in Umuahia, Abia State, and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, to address the challenges faced by couples in the South-South and South-East zones.
She said: “Ministry is presently considering some of the recommendations made by stakeholders in the course of the conference, like extending the validity period for licences issued to places of worship for the celebration of marriages, as well as downward review of the fees payable by couples for conduct of statutory marriages in federal marriage registries.”
The ministry had pegged the fee at N21,000, which led to outcry from Nigerians.
“Machinery has also been put in place for the amendment of the Marriage Act to adequately meet the needs of the 21st century,” Mrs. Ehuriah further disclosed.
The Registrar General of Marriages in Nigeria disclosed further that arrangements were ongoing to give couples whose certificates were not issued in line with the Act the opportunity to bring them to conformity.
According to her, the ministry is exploring the possibility of integrating the marriage registries operated by local governments into its online platform so as to bring them in conformity with the Marriage Act.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director, Citizenship & Business Department, of the Interior, Mr. Stephen Okon, stated that the conference was necessitated by the challenges faced by citizens because of wrong documentation of their marriages which had led to litigation.
He stated that the conference was aimed at creating more awareness on issues surrounding the conduct of valid statutory marriage as well as bringing about conformity with the law and uniformity in the activities of the Marriage Registries across the nation.
According to a statement signed by Mohammed Manga, Director of Press in the ministry, Okon called for synergy among stakeholders to build a harmonious collaboration that would help in resolving issues militating against sanctity in the conduct and documentation of statutory marriages in the country.
The event which marks the end of the first round of the workshop on the conduct of statutory marriages in the country, had earlier been held in Abuja and Lagos for the North and Western zones.