A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the closure of all federal marriage registries opened by the ministry, including the Ikoyi Marriage Registry, with immediate effect.
The court presided over by Justice D. E. Osiagor held that only the local government marriage registries are empowered to conduct marriages by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Justice Osiagor noted that it is unconstitutional for federal government registries to conduct marriages.
He submitted that the conduct of marriages and issuance of certificates are statutorily the job of the local governments as provided by the law.
The judge added that the acts of the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Interior, operating marriage registries is beyond their powers and held that all marriages conducted by federal marriage registries or through their agents are illegal and invalid.
There has been a legal battle between some local government areas in Nigeria against the Federal Government over who has the power to operate marriage registries, conduct marriages and issue marriage certificates.
The LGAs had insisted that their power to register marriages was being taken over by the federal government through the Ministry of Interior.
This prompted the Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State to approach the court, where it sought an order to take over the popular Ikoyi Marriage Registry being operated by the Ministry of Interior, on the grounds that the Federal Government, through the ministry, had no business operating a marriage registry.