‘It is high time we reviewed our marriage laws in Nigeria’
updated: Monday 25-08-2008
Samaranda OlarindeSamaranda Olarinde is Romanian by birth but Nigerian by marriage. The legal authority on family law speaks with Bukola Olajide on the concept of marriage, divorce and related issues under the Nigerian Family Law. Excerpts:
Going by the provision of the Nigerian family Law, one can conveniently say that so many marriages are infact invalid. Would you agree with that statement?
Absolutely. It is an unfortunate phenomenon in Nigeria that many unions even between the highly educated and the elite are entered into without being a legally valid union because there is a misconception about the validity of a marriage. For a marriage to be valid, certain ingredients must be present before the law recognises such a union as valid and having legal effect on the parties. For instance, Nigeria is operating a tripartite legal system in the institution of marriage which are; the statutory laws (the received English laws and the common law before 1900), the customary laws and the Islamic laws (embodied in the Sharia Law which operates in the Northern part of the country).
As we have different sets of laws regulating the institution so do we have different courts administering these laws. This means a person can enter into a monogamous marriage by marrying according to the Marriage Act, by celebrating the marriage in a registry or a recognised place of worship, which is the ecclesiastical celebration.
Secondly, we also have the legally recognised marriage under the customary laws, which is recognised, by the various customary laws in the country and the customary marriage is a potentially polygamous marriage.
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