Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos will on April 30 deliver judgment in a suit filed by some local government areas in the country, challenging the power of the Ministry of Interior to operate marriage registries.
The four local government areas are, Egor Local Government of Edo State; Eti-Osa Local Government Area, Lagos State; Owerri Municipal Local Government Area, Imo State; and Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Rivers State.
The local councils, through their lawyer, Michael Roger, want the court to declare that the conduct and registration of marriages is the exclusive right of local governments.They are also praying the court to “restrain the 1st respondent (Minister of Interior) either by themselves, their agencies, servants from further establishing any federal marriage registry in any part of local governments in Nigeria.”
They want the court to, “seal all federal marriage registries established by the first respondent in all the applicants’ local government areas in Nigeria.”
The LGAs further argued that by virtue of Section 1(5) Paragraph 1(i) of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Ministry of Interior, an agency of the Federal Government, has no business registering marriages as it currently does.
However in his counter affidavit, the Minister of Interior and the Attorney General of the Federation, who were joined as the first and second defendants, have opposed the suit, urging the court to dismiss same.
The AGF, who was represented on Thursday by M.O. Sanni, described the suit as an abuse of court processes, pointing out that the issues raised in the suit had already been decided by Justice I.O. Harrison of the Lagos State High Court.
On his own part, Mr. Kola Odugbesan, who appeared for the Minister of Interior, said the plaintiffs’ suit was misconceived .“They (LGAs) can’t celebrate marriages, they can’t conduct marriages,” Odugbesan said.
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