Ask Nigeria Header Logo

Local gov’t seek rights to conduct marriages

Photo of author

By Mercy Kelani

They sued the federal gov’t of Nigeria at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Recently, the Lagos Court of appeal overruled a judgement that granted exclusive rights for conduction of statutory marriages to local governments in Nigeria. According to the court, local governments and Federal Marriage Registries have the rights to conduct marriages and ensure issuance of certificates to couples. The Attorney General of Nigeria and Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Interior had been sued by the local governments, who request possession of the exclusive right to conduct conjugality.

These plaintiffs include Eti-Osa in Lagos, Gor in Edo, Owerri Municipal in Imo, and Port-Harcourt in Rivers. They sued the federal government of Nigeria at the Federal High Court located in Lagos. The judgment of the judge, Daniel Isiagor, on the suit in December 2021 stopped the Minister of Interior who is in charge of Marriage Registries from further marriage contractions under the Marriage Act — Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. The Attorney General and the Interior Minister’s dissatisfaction made them file separate appeals regarding the issue.

Neither the Interior Minister nor the local councils have exclusive rights.

Represented by Tijjani Gazali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the AGF advised the Court of Appeal to posit that the trial was not right to have given exclusive rights to the local governments to administer conjugality and issue couples certificates. The judgment delivered on August 2, 2023 revealed that a three-member panel of the court, chaired by Olukayode Bada, asserted that neither local governments nor the federal government possess the exclusive right to administer statutory marriages.

Abubakar Umar, in his decisive statement, cited a judgment of the Federal High Court on a related issue in 2002. He affirmed that the pronouncement of the court that year did not confer neither the Interior Minister nor the local councils with the exclusive rights to conduct this ceremony. Therefore, he added that any reference to exclusive rights to carry out the ceremony is not in alignment with the Federal High Court’s decision in 2002, although variant with the associated Act.

There has been a long-time dispute over conduction of statutory marriages.

It was agreed by the appellate court that the contraction of wedlock in local government councils are authentic. The Appeal Court said that the trial court was wrong to have restrained the Minister of Interior from further registration and celebration of wedlock, and issuance of certificates within local governments. The requests of local governments to order refunds of every marriage fee gotten from couples by the Minister since 2002 was also refused by the Court of Appeal.

In Nigeria, there have been a long-time dispute between the federal government and local councils over conduction of statutory marriages. The dispute worsened when Nigerian embassies cited credibility issues as an excuse to refuse recognition of wedlock certificates issued by local government councils. Also, when granting visas to married couples, only matrimony certificates issued by the Federal Marriage Registries in Lagos, Abuja, and other major cities in the country are recognised in embassies and foreign organisations.

Four local gov’t pleaded restraining order on the Minister of Interior.

Resultantly, the aforementioned four local government councils in Edo, Lagos, Rivers, and Imo States lodged a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking conferment of exclusive rights on them to contract marriages. In summons filed on April 12, 2019, the plaintiffs, through Michael Roger, their lawyer, pleaded with the court to grant an “order of perpetual injunction restraining” the Minister of Interior and his agents from contracting wedlock under the Marriage Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Related Link

Mondaq: Website

The content on is given for general information only and does not constitute a professional opinion, and users should seek their own legal/professional advice. There is data available online that lists details, facts and further information not listed in this post, please complete your own investigation into these matters and reach your own conclusion. accepts no responsibility for losses from any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of content contained in this website and/or other websites which may be linked to this website.

Fact Checking Tool -

5 1 vote
Rate This Article
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ask Nigeria
3 months ago

Local gov’t seek rights to conduct marriagesThey sued the federal gov’t of Nigeria at the Federal High Court in Lagos. – Express your point of view.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kenny Adetunji
3 months ago

That’s quite an interesting development! It seems that local governments in Nigeria are seeking the rights to conduct marriages and have taken the matter to court by suing the federal government at the Federal High Court in Lagos. This issue raises important questions about the division of powers between the federal and local levels of government in Nigeria.

Granting local governments the authority to conduct marriages could have its advantages and challenges. On the one hand, it can promote decentralization and allow for more localized decision-making, which may be beneficial for couples who prefer to have their marriages officiated at the local level. It could also provide an opportunity for local governments to tailor marriage laws and regulations to the specific needs and traditions of their communities.

However, it’s important to consider the potential challenges that may arise from granting this authority to local governments. Ensuring consistency and uniformity in marriage laws and regulations across the country could become more complex if each local government has its own rules and requirements. It may also create confusion and administrative difficulties for couples who move between different local government areas.

Ultimately, striking a balance between granting autonomy to local governments and maintaining a cohesive legal framework for marriages nationwide is crucial. The court’s decision on this matter will have significant implications for the governance structure in Nigeria and the rights of local governments. It will be interesting to see how the court navigates these complexities and what the outcome will be.

3 months ago

The ability of local governments to successfully handle marriage registration and regulation is crucial. To prevent problems and disputes, they need to make sure they can fulfill the societal, administrative, and legal standards related to conducting marriages.

3 months ago

It is essential that local governments are capable of managing marriage registration and regulation. They must ensure that they can uphold the societal, organizational, and legal norms associated to conducting marriages in order to avoid issues and disagreements.