A legal marriage in Nigeria requires the physical presence of the parties involved. There is difference between Church wedding (white wedding) and registry marriage (court marriage).
Registry marriage is regulated by the Marriage Act. For a marriage to be valid, it must have been done at either: One, at the registry, licensed place of worship or
a Nigeria diplomatic or consular office abroad.
Furthermore, there are certain requirements of the law for a valid marriage which cannot be satisfied by online marriage, such as presentation of caveat, publishing of notice of marriage.
Section 23 of the Marriage Act provides that: A minister shall not celebrate any marriage except IN A BUILDING which has been duly licensed by the minister, or in such place as the license issued under section 13 of this Act, may direct. Section 27: After the issue of a certificate under section 11, or of a license under section 13 of this Act, the parties may, if they think fit, contract a marriage BEFORE A REGISTRAR, in the presence of two witnesses IN HIS OFFICE, with open doors, between the hours of ten o’clock in the forenoon and four o’clock in the afternoon, and in the following manner.
Section 29 which may have been of consolation to those who want online marriage also restricted it to the requirements of licensed place of worship or registry.
Going through the gamut of the Marriage Act, it quickly becomes obvious that the need for an online marriage was not envisaged in the composition and intent of the Marriage Act in Nigeria.
It is settled law, that clear and ambiguous words in a statute needs to be given their ordinary meaning when construing it – Niger Progress Ltd N.E.I. Corp 1989 3 NWLR Pt. 107 68; Garba V Fed Civil Service Commision 1988 I NWLR Pt. 71 449; Bamiyi V A.G. oF Fed 2001 90 LRCN 2738; Ainabeholo V E.S.U.W.F.M.P.C.S. LTD. 2007 2 NWLR Pt.1017, p.33 at p.37.
In conclusion, Nigeria law does not envisaged online marriage (Registry Marriage); any such purported marriage cannot be said to be in conformity with the law.
Opatola Victor Esq.,