Nigerian government recently introduced a new Federal Marriage Certificate for all types of marriages in the country.
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah, disclosed this on Wednesday at a stakeholders conference on the conduct of statutory marriage in Abuja.
She said existing couples who do not have their certificate issued by the Ministry of Interior are advised to visit the ministry’s website to re-certify their marriage certificates.
“This is for the marriage to be credible and registered in the National database of legally certified marriages,” she said.
“If the certificate is not printed and delivered by the principal registrar of marriages, then it is illegal and can not serve the desired purpose”, she said.
“Arrangements are ongoing for couples whose certificates were not issued in line with the Marriage Act of opportunity to bring them to conformity.”
Speaking on the benefits of the certificate, Mrs Ehuriah said it will be recognised by all foreign embassies during visa application.
She advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to accept the certificate for the guidance of foreign embassies in Nigeria and Nigerian missions aboard.
Ms Ehuriah said conducting marriages by places of worship not duly licensed by the ministry will be considered a breach of the Marriage Act.
Meanwhile the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has alleged that churches are being targeted by the Federal Government following the new marriage certificate law introduced by the Ministry of Interior.
PFN’s National President of the fellowship, Rev.(Dr.) Felix Omobude who lashed out at the Ministry of Interior over the imposition of a compulsory N30,000 charge licence for Christian worship centres for the conduct of statutory marriages in churches and N21,000 for each marriage certificate, alleged that it is an attempt to commercialize Christian marriages in the country.
Omobude called on the Federal Government to shelve the unpopular policy which he said is exploitative and targeted against Christian marriages in the country. He added that they will use every legal means to stop the new marriage certificate law.
“This is very unfair and to the best of our understanding, the new law is targeted against the Church because the Traditional and Islamic weddings are exempted from paying the new marriage certificate fees.
“PFN is at a loss as to why Church Marriages should be in the exclusive list of the nation’s constitution. The PFN, therefore calls on the Federal Government to immediately shelve the unpopular policy targeted against Christian marriages in the country.
“If the Ministry of Interior is in dire need of funds, it should look elsewhere and resist the temptation of placing extra financial burden on the Christians and their churches.” He said