Legal Recognition of Customary Law Marriages Celebrated by Proxy: Perspectives from Nigeria
Authors Osose Eidenoje
Affiliations: LLB Student, University of Nairobi, School of Law LLB (Hons) (University of Benin, Nigeria); BL (Hons) (Nigerian Law School, Abuja); LLM Candidate (University of Benin, Nigeria)
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2014, Issue 2, p. 148 – 172
This article examines the essential and formal requirements for the celebration of a valid marriage contracted under customary or indigenous law in Nigeria, with comparative analysis of the practice in similar Commonwealth countries, and common law jurisdictions. The celebration of a customary marriage by proxy in Nigeria is analysed against the backdrop of the various tests for the validity of customary law. The decision of the Nigerian Court in the case of Ogunremi v Ogunremi, which has been cited by many in justification of the practice of celebrating customary law by proxy, is briefly analysed. The views of the author are that, in order to determine the validity or otherwise of proxy marriages, one has to look beyond the Ogunremi decision. In addition, a marriage celebrated by proxy should be regarded as valid in Nigeria if such mode of celebration is permissible under the extant laws or prevalent customs of the place of celebration, even if it is within a foreign jurisdiction. Further, that the right to marry is an inalienable constitutional and international human right, a fact that Nigerian authorities should recognise in relation to proxy marriages. Reference is made to the toleration of proxy marriages under other legal systems and foreign jurisdictions. The article concludes that the celebration of a customary law marriage by proxy is consistent with legal provisions in Nigeria and recommends, among other things, that such marriage should be recognised by Nigerian authorities.