May I make it clear from the very start that I am writing this as my personal opinion and stand on the matter, and this is based on my position as a Person, a Nigerian, a Christian and also a Lawyer.

Kindly find this as my response to the Federal Government’s decision through the Ministry of Interior, making a compulsory 30K charge license for Christian worship centres for the conduct of statutory marriages in churches and 21K for each of such weddings conducted.

Who has the rights to make laws about marriage? The State does (I mean the political or civil society) in consideration of the various customs, traditions and religions within its territory.

I feel the Legal Adviser to the PFN failed to counsel them properly before they made public their objections. I doubt if they contacted him (or them) at all. In fact, it is my stand that PFN’s statement was said out of ignorance of the law and understanding of the concept of Marriage.

I have a different argument. It dates back to when church weddings started. Christians created the problems for themselves by creating church weddings; that was when religion, politics and culture became fused into one. We gave the State the power to regulate us. They didn’t take it from us, we voluntarily offered it because we wanted to have control beyond our church walls.

I always ask “must you have a church wedding?” And when I do, church people attack me. But seriously, “why have multiple weddings?” Our law permits 2 types of marriages which are Customary and Statutory weddings, and you are free to elect both or any one.

Why must the church insist on customary marriage first before church wedding (and still be even asking who gives this bride to be married, and one man that had already given her out yesterday will still be coming out to give)? Why does the Church see you as one who has not married properly, better put, a sinner, because you did not have your wedding in a Church or have a priest conduct it?

Statutory weddings are not for Christians alone. When atheists elect it, they pay the fees, and have it.  In fact, from experience, it is even cheaper in Nigeria to have a wedding at a Marriage Registry than in a church. Besides, the fees proscribed are for everyone and anyone who elects a Statutory Marriage, no matter where and how the marriage is conducted.

Should we choose only customary wedding, the Registration of Birth, Death etc Act provides for customary marriages to be issued Certificates too (just in case you didn’t know). I mean, our States even have the “Registration of Marriages Adoptive By-laws Orders”, the “Native Authority (Declaration of…Law and Custom) Order” etc. In fact, even many lawyers (and judges sef) do not know that Customary Marriages need to be registered within one month (depending on the State) to really be completely valid. Let’s leave that argument for Lawyers and judges.

So if you asked me, I would ask the church “why church weddings in the first place?” Does the Bible command or even suggest it? Are we saying that it is only weddings conducted inside a Church hall or by a priest that are blessed? Are we trying to say that it is only weddings conducted in a church or by a priest that God witnesses and approves of?

But nah, the church is not ready and willing to give up that marriage power. So they should not expect the Government to give up its own power, too. Besides, we can still have church weddings without having the Marriage Act Certificate and the Courts decisions group such church weddings as customary weddings. Ehn nau, shey the father of the girl still comes to “give this bride to be wed?”

So, rather than for the church to be fighting about the fees, avoid the practice. And if you cannot, then conduct a religious wedding and don’t issue the certificate under the Marriage Act. But you cannot be insisting on wanting to issue the Marriage Act certificate and still be fighting the government over the fees. It is the government that has the powers to dictate what the fees and venues would be, not God (Yes, I said that in consideration of all the Bible knowledge that I have. You are free to argue but with your Bible).

Let’s be serious sef. Ignorance of the law is terrible sha. Did you know if you wanted a garden wedding or any wedding outside the venue of the Marriage Registry, you are required to pay the fees to have the licenses to have such a wedding outside the Government venue? Yes. It is immaterial if that venue is in your backyard, Church, Mosque or Community Square. So I do not see why PFN is trying to personalize Statutory Marriages.

The church has never come up to contest or try to regulate the Bride Price or the Bride Price List. The Church has never come up to contest the venue of a Customary Marriage when all the people involved are her members o, yet, it wants to attack the Government for setting fees and registration of venues. “Charity, they say, “begins at and from home.” PFN should first of all regulate the Bride Price List and Customary Marriages of its members, then, they can have the morality to try to influence the prices and costs of the Government for having same.

See, a culture and most especially, a family, determines the cost and venue of a Customary Marriage. By our civil laws as a Country, the Marriage Act and also the Minister of Interiors determines which venue and the cost of a Statutory Marriage. If you have issues with it, you are allowed to choose only a Customary Wedding. You must not have a statutory wedding. I mean, you can still have a Church Wedding; collect the Church’s Wedding Certificate and leave that of the Federal Government (Marriage Act), alone.

If you are contesting that the fees are too high for Nigerian youths who want to marry, I would understand. But personalizing it and thinking that it is a form of persecution on the church is so way off. Statutory Marriage is for Nigerians, not for Christians. Yes, it is not like what Sharia and Islamic marriage is to Moslems. No. At least, Moslems have been smart enough to regulate their marriages (and our law sees it as Customary Marriage). If Christians want to regulate Christian Marriages, they should (the Courts already agree and group it under customary marriages, too). But don’t leave your house unattended to, and be fighting the government over what is not really yours.

Yes, all the said benefits and protection we think the Marriage Act offers, our Christian religion and other National and State laws provide them, too. So Statutory Marriage is not a must for you to feel safe and secure from those evil and terrible practices and insecurities in Marriage.

I hope you are vexed, too. Remember it is my opinion and I am entitled to one. Share yours if you do not mind.

My name is Earl, and I am Alright.