Monday, 29 September 2008

Quick Fix Marriage

The registry is still a popular place for many marriages even as some use the opportunity for other motives

By Okechukwu Jombo

To a first time visitor to the secretariat of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the cluster of persons milling every day around the premises might well be contract seekers. But not all of them are there for that purpose.

Activities at the secretariat pick up seriously every morning and reach a feverish crescendo in the afternoon of all the five working days of the week. During this period, visitors are allowed to troop into the premises of the council for various reasons including to get married in the marriage registry which is also located inside the compound of the area council. Some others go there to cement marital relationship. But on a closer look, one would notice that various mini marriage ceremonies are going on.

Newsworld discovered that all one needs to get married is to walk into the registry and ask to be wedded upon which a form is given to both intending couples who fill same and submit it with a N4,500 fee. The form which also goes with the passport photographs of intending couples.

The commissioner of Oath collects the forms and advises couples to come back after twenty-one days being the period of waiting for public objection to the marriage or not. The passport photographs are pasted on the notice board of the registry throughout the waiting period.
After this time, the couple come forward and are joined in a simple ceremony and a marriage is made.

However, this is not news. What is news is that instead of going through this simple procedure, many persons are now getting marriage certificates without actually getting married in the registry.

One of such cases is that of Onyekwere John who needed a visa to travel to England and was told that one of the criteria to getting the visa is by getting married first. Onyekwere walks into the registry and with the help of a friend gets a marriage certificate for a fee outside the official one.
Newsworld investigations reveal that Onyekwere’s case is very familiar because according to an insider, only fools wait for the statutory 21 days before getting marriage certificates.

The source said it is an age-long racket which cuts across the entire marriage registry nationwide. He explained that fees are negotiated with the racketeer whenever one needs it.
At the registry, it was learnt that not less than ten of such matrimony takes place daily and is mostly between middle aged people who may not want to go through the stress of Church wedding and other appendages like marriage course. However, it was gathered that still, some after doing the registry marriage, go ahead to do the traditional and Church wedding put together.

But while some troop the registry to get the marriage certificate for negative purposes, others what to be re-assured by their spouses.
However, a staff of the registry who pleaded anonymity said that it is not normal for intending couples who go through the ‘back door’ to get their certificates. He said those who do so are dubious people who entice their staff with money.

She went forward to say that it is illegal and should not be encouraged at all.
Nigerian Newsworld discovered that although the act is rampant, it is an offence and can cause a worker his job if caught, thereby making it a syndicated act in the registry.

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