Thursday, November 06, 2014

Suit By Catholic Challenges Nigeria's Requirements For Christian Marriages

In Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association,  has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Marriage Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act. According to yesterday's This Day, the suit brought in the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court contends that the Marriage Act forces Agbakoba, a Catholic, to be married in a secular ceremony rather than in accordance with Canon Law in violation of his constitutionally protected right of religious freedom.  According to the complaint:
The Marriage Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act subject the sacrament of holy matrimony to state certification thus constrained the Applicant to contract a secular marriage. But the ATR [African traditional Religion] adherents, Muslims, and traditionalists are enabled by the Nigerian legal system to contract valid marriages under their religious codes without state intervention or further ‘validation’ by a Marriage Registry or other civil authority under a secular statute.
Agbakoba also claims that the Matrimonial Causes Act is discriminatory by requiring Christians to resolve marital disputes through the civil courts by judges who are not knowledgeable in Canon law, while Muslims may use Islamic courts and adherents of African Traditional Religions may use Customary Courts.