Proof of Customary law marriage

Nigerian Marriage Laws

  1. Statutory Marriage Preceded By Customary Marriage
  2. Registration Of Customary Marriage
  3. Proposed Reform Of Marriage Act
  4. Proof Of Marriage
  5. Proof Of Customary Law Marriage
  6. Other Types Of Customary Marriage
  7. Islamic Law Marriage
  8. Formal validity of marriage
  9. Essential Validity Of Marriage
  10. Customary Law Marriage
  11. Celebration of marriage
  12. Celebration Of Customary Marriage
  13. Bride Price

Customary law marriage being an institution which create status, must be strictly proved in judicial proceedings

To establish that a valid customary law marriage was contracted, evidence must first be led as to the customary law of marriage of the locality concerned and the essentials of such marriage. In addition compliance with those essentials must be proved by satisfactory evidence The best evidence is that of persons who witnessed or took part in the marriage ceremonies. Quashie – Idun Ag. J. (as he then was) stated the law succinctly thus in Lawal v Younan.

They called some of the women who have told the court that they and others were married to the deceased person in accordance with Native Custom. I do not think that this form is. the proper rrjethod of proving Native Customary Marriage. Either the person who gave away the woman in marriage or a person who witnessed the ceremony or was sent to ask for the hand of the woman should be called to give evidence in proof of the marriage. I do not think that it is sufficient to call only the alleged husband or wife to testify as to the marriage, neither do I think that an administrator or a person claiming a benefit in the estate is alone competent to give that evidence.

This rule does not make the parties to the marriage or persons interested in it incompetent to testify as to the fact of the marriage but deals rather with the insufficiency of the evidence of such witnesses. Consequently, the Supreme Court held in Agongo v Aseleke and others that the uncontradicted evidence of a party to a marriage was sufficient to establish the marriage. The rule as discussed in Lawal v Ibunan, therefore, applies only where the evidence is challenged, in which case there is need for additional evidence to prove the marriage.

The requirement of strict proof of customary law marriage arises from the fact that no ready and reliable record of customary law marriages are kept to which a court called upon to determine the existence of such marriage may rely upon. Unlike statutory marriages, no compulsory and reliable system of registration exists.

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