Just recently, it was reported that Chuka Austine Obiozor, a justice, issued a restraining order to the Ikoyi registry from conducting marriages, saying it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to perform the duties of the state and local governments.
The judgement delivered on Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1760/16 said marriage registries in the local government and local council development areas of Lagos State are the authentic and legally-binding government divisions established to carry out such functions.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami said the judgment will be communicated to all stakeholders, including embassies. He said the decision of the court is supreme and is legally binding on all and that all marriages conducted and registered in any of the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas are valid and in accordance with the marriage act.
According to him, the judgment will put a stop to the perception of superiority of Ikoyi Marriage Registry over the local government registries. “We are going to use every available platform in the five divisions across the state to sensitize our people and inform them about this latest development; From Epe to Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja and Lagos Island,” he said.
In his remarks, Deji Sokeye, the president of the marriage registrars in all the local government and local council development areas, said the responsibilities of the LGAs/LCDAs has come back to them by the virtue of the law and as provided for in section 30 (1) of the marriage act and section 7 (5) of the 1999 constitution. He said the judgement would restore confidence in the certificates already issued and those that will be awarded in future by the registries.
In other news, however, the Federal Government has denied claims by the Lagos State Government that a Federal High Court has shut down the Ikoyi Marriage Registry, saying the case was instead struck out.
The Director, Legal, Ministry of Interior, Bola Odugbesan, made the clarification in a statement Friday in Abuja while reacting to reports credited to the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Bisi Olufuwa.
Odugbesan said, “In the case, the court was invited to interpret the provisions of the Constitution conferring on local governments, the powers to register marriages.v”
“The Minister of Interior, through his Counsel, Bola Odugbesan, argued that under item 61 of the Exclusive List, matters connected with marriage under the Marriage Act, issuing of marriage certificate and its registration are outside the purview of State and/or Local Governments.”
“The Federal High Court in its judgment dated April 30, 2018, struck out the case of the Plaintiffs, ie, Egor LGA & Ors. The court held that the case is an abuse of the court process in view of the earlier judgment of the court in 2002 which upheld the sanctity of the rights of the Minister to issue licences to places of worship to conduct marriages, and the Registrar under the Marriage Act to register marriages. It is instructive to note that Lagos State was not a party in the case,” the director explained.
Odugbesan insisted that the Federal High Court never ordered the closure of Ikoyi Marriage Registry as claimed by Olufuwa.
The Ministry of Interior said that the court presided over by Justice Chuka Obiozor simply upheld the judgment of a Federal High Court delivered in 2002 which was not appealed.