FG reacts to Lagos’ claim that marriages in Ikoyi registry not legally binding

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The Federal Government on Friday dismissed as false the claims made by the Lagos State Government that a Federal High Court had shut down the Ikoyi Marriage Registry in Lagos.

The Ministry of Interior explained 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.

The ministry’s Director of Legal, Bola Odugbesan, made this clarification in a statement in Abuja following a press statement on Thursday issued by the Director, Public Affairs, Lagos state Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Bisi Olufuwa.

Olufuwa had claimed that Lagos State had secured a court injunction restraining the Ikoyi registry from conducting marriages. The Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami, had while speaking on the development, said that the judgment of the court was binding on every organisation and institution in the state, including embassies.

Folami said that there will also be a sensitisation campaign to inform all the registries in the state about the decision.

He said “We are going to use the five divisions across the state to sensitise our people and inform them about this latest development. From Epe to Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja and Lagos Island.

“The sensitization walk which we embarked on today is also a way of creating awareness and letting the people know of this latest development.”

But dismissing the state government’s position, Odugbesan explained that the case, Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1760/16, between Egor Local Government Area, Edo State and three others Vs. Ministry of Interior & others, cited by the Lagos State Government, was actually struck out by Justice Obiozor in his judgment delivered on April 30, 2018.

The Interior ministry director presented a copy of the judgment by Obiozor, who described the case as “an abuse of court process” and struck it out.

Clarifying what transpired in the suit, 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.

“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, i.e., 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, reiterating that the Federal High Court never ordered the closure of Ikoyi Marriage Registry, as claimed by Olufuwa.

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