The federal government says ghost marriages are illegal and vows to punish any registrar found to have violated the law regarding the registration of marriages.
The Director of Citizenship and Business Department, Moremi Soyinka-Onijala of the interior ministry, disclosed this regarding speculations that marriage certificates obtained from the federal registries without the intending couples present.
Ghost marriage is a marriage in which one or both parties are deceased.
Responding on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Soyinka-Onijala, citing some provisions of the Marriage Act, said sections 44 provides that “whoever impersonates any other person in marriage or marries under a false name or description, with intent to deceive the other party to the marriage, shall be liable to imprisonment for five years.”
She added,” It is an important requirement for intending couples to be physically present at any Registry (Federal or not) or at any licensed public place of worship in order to be married under the provisions of the Marriage Act of 1990 Cap 218 LFN as amended.
“Ghost marriages are illegal, and any marriages so conducted are rendered null and void ab initio.”
According to Mrs Soyinka-Onijala, section 42 provides that “whoever witnesses as a marriage officer in the ceremony of marriage, knowing that he is not duly qualified to do so, or that any of the matters required by law for the validity of such marriage has not happened shall be liable to imprisonment for five years.”
She further noted that the interior ministry had trained its registrars to comply with the provisions of the act in the conduct of statutory marriages and verify intending couples’ identity by obtaining their national identity card, passport, driver’s licence, and voter’s identity card.
“If any federal registrar is found to have violated the law, he or she shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Act and the Public Service Rules,” she said.