With Dayo Benson
Please tell us where to register our property instead of writing a Will. Thanks

— Peter Victor

Where to register your property depends on where you reside. If you live in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for instance, the place to register property is different from that of Lagos. If you are a Lagos resident, the place to go is Land Registry. The operation is however decentralised in the state for easy access. So, if you want to register your property in preference to writing a Will, I will advise you consult a lawyer. It is in your own interest.

Is dowry necessary in statutory marriage in Nigeria?

I want to know if the payment of dowry is needed in statutory marriage as in customary marriage? This issue is causing problem to a friend. Reply please.

— Esse Thomas

I think a clear understanding of the meaning of statutory marriage is important in an attempt to answer your question. Also, you need to have a full understanding of customary marriage and its inherent traditional obligations especially on the man. This, I believe will enable you appreciate the relationship between the two if there is any.

Statutory marriage is the type of marriage prescribed by the provisions of Matrimonial Causes Act, MCA. It is recognised by the law and that is why it is statutory. Before the marriage is contracted, the intention of the would-be couple is published with their photographs on the notice-board of the marriage registry for 21 days. The purpose is to allow anyone with objections to the marriage to come forward and state why the two should not be wedded as husband and wife.

For instance, it is an offence for anyone who was married to another person to contract a second marriage in a registry when the first marriage has not be legally dissolved.

Anyone who does so shall be guilty of bigamy. That means statutory marriage recognises monogamy, a husband and wife. This is probably the reason why some men are reluctant to take women they have married in traditional way to the registry. Men who do this are either previously married or they do not have the intention of making the women their legal wives.

On the other hand, customary marriage is the type of marriage guided by native law and custom. The ingredients of customary marriage vary  from one cultural environment to another.

On the issue of dowry, it is compulsory in customary marriage alongside other ceremonies. Statutory marriage however demands that the marriage is contracted in open at the registry and must be witnessed by at least two witnesses.

The main celebration of the marriage is exchange of marital vows and wedding rings as well as signing of the register by the couple and the two witnesses. At the end of all these, a marriage certificate is issued to the couple.

So, the law does not prescribe payment of dowry. But the presumption is that before a marriage is contracted, the man must have sought and obtained the consent of the woman’s parents. It is in the process of doing this that payment of dowry comes in even if it is a token. So, it is  not enough for your friend to contract a statutory marriage without doing what the culture and tradition demand.

So,  that may be the reason why he is having a problem in that area. In the eyes of the law, he is married, but in the eyes of culture and tradition, he is not  until he pays the dowry.

Not ready for marriage yet

I’m a sixteen-year old girl and a Christian, I have a 29-year old boyfriend who is a Muslim.

He lives in Abuja while I live in Port Harcourt. He really loves me and he wants to marry me, but I told him I have to complete my education before I get married.

I didn’t know if my parents will like him. Do you think I should keep him waiting or do I let him go?


It is quite too early for a 16-year old girl to be thinking of marriage. What you should be pre-occupied with is how to complete your education and  have a good  driven career. Note however that this column give pieces of advice on legal issues and not romance.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.