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FG to amend Marriage Act to address inconsistencies in certificate issuance

The Federal Government has announced plans to amend the existing Marriage Act in an effort to sanitise the process of issuing marriage certificates in the country, to meet the 21st Century requirements. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah, made the disclosure on Wednesday in Abuja at the opening of a stakeholders’ conference on conduct of statutory marriage. According to Ehuriah, only 4,689 licensed places of worship had so far updated their records with the federal government, adding that only 314 of that number have renewed their licenses to conduct statutory marriages.

Consequently, the permanent secretary has called on the affected organisations to do the appropriate thing, saying the ministry was set to advise the ministry of foreign affairs on the appropriate actions to take regarding certificates tendered by citizens intending to travel abroad. “Movingf or ward, I have already put in place machinery for the commencement of the process for the amendment of the Marriage Act to adequately meet the needs of citizens in the 21st Century.

“Also, arrangements are ongoing to give couples whose certificates were not issued inline with the Act the opportunity to bring them to conformity. “As we progress with the sanitization of the process, the Ministry intends to appropriately advise the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the legally acceptable Certificate for the guidance of foreign embassies in Nigeria and Nigerian Missions abroad,” Ehuriah said.

This was as she disclosed that government was presently building a database of all marriages consummated in the country, with a view to responding to enquiries from countries and relevant organisations. “Presently, only about 4,689 licensed places of worship in nigeria have updated their records with the Ministry of Interior of which only 314 have renewed their licenses to conduct statutory marriages.

The implication of this is that marriages conducted in unlicensed places of worship are not in line with the Marriage act and can not serve legal purposes when the need arises; and such unlicensed places of worship are operating contrary to Section 6(1) of the Marriage Act. “Presently, the Ministry is building a data base of all statutory marriages conducted in Nigeria. It has also developed a database of all places of worship licensed for celebration of marriages. This has enabled the Ministry to be in a good position to respond to enquiries from various interested parties from within and outside Nigeria.

In addition, the documentation processes for licensing places of worship have been automated to facilitate submission of application for licenses by interested places of worship,” she said. She stressed the need for strict compliance with the requirements as specified in the Act by applicants as applications that do not satisfy the law will not be approved. Accordingly, she said, administrators of places of worship are encouraged to satisfy these requirements.

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