There are 2 types of marriages in Nigeria; English Marriage and Traditional Marriage. In traditional marriage also known as Native, Customary, African or Local marriage, a man is allowed to marry more than one wife; polygamy is allowed. In English marriage also known as Statutory, Court, Civil or Law marriage, it allows only one man to one wife.
Hence, it is an offence for a man or woman married in English marriage to marry another person while still married to the earlier spouse. It is punishable with 5 years imprisonment.
Where a husband/wife already married in English law seeks to marry another person, he/she can be stopped, legally. The second pending marriage under English law can be legally stopped by entering a caveat at the Marriage Registry stopping the Registrar of Marriages from issuing the Registrar’s certificate (approval) to celebrate (perfect) such marriage. Caveat is a warning/notice and is entered by writing the word “Forbidden” opposite the entry on the marriage notice book with the name and address of the person entering such caveat as well as the grounds/reasons for such caveat. Once there is a caveat, the Registrar of Marriage cannot proceed to issue certificate authorising the celebration of such marriage rather the Registrar will suspend such marriage and refer such case to a judge of a High Court of the state or FCT. Then the court will summon the intending couple and the person that entered the caveat to try the matter summarily. The judgment of the court will stop such marriage.
My authorities are sections 1, 2, 14, 15 and 39 of the Marriage Act, 1914.
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