Minimum Number of Guests for Marriages in Nigeria.

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Daily Law Tips (Tip 632) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

English marriage is highly regulated in Nigeria, from venue and time to the number of witnesses that must be present. By the way, there are two types of marriages in Nigeria; English Marriage and Customary Marriage. Customary marriage (Traditional, Native, Cultural marriage or Pure religious/church marriage without government notices) is a marriage conducted according to the native law and customs which often allows a man to marry more than one wife. English marriage (Statutory, Court or Registry marriage) is a marriage between one man and a woman in accordance with the federal government laws and policies on marriage.

In English marriage there is a minimum number of witnesses that must be present before a marriage will be valid. This is because, unlike courtship/friendship, marriage must be conducted and known to more persons part from the couple and the Clergy/Minister/Registrar conducting the marriage. The federal law that regulates English marriage in Nigeria, is the Marriage Act; made since 31 December 1914.

After issuance and expiration of valid marriage notices at a Marriage Registry, an English marriage can then be conducted by a Registrar of Marriage or a Minister/Clergy of a recognised church/religious denomination in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses, excluding the Registrar/Minister himself. Marriage must be conducted only in the office of a Registrar of marriage or licensed place of worship/any other licensed place. And, marriage must be conducted between the hours of 8.00 am and 6.00 pm if in a licensed place of worship, or between the hours of 10.00 am and 4.00 pm with open doors if in a Marriage Registry/court.

My authorities are:

1. Sections 1, 21, 27, of the Marriage Act 1914.

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