However, it is common in Nigeria for a single couple to conduct at least three different kinds of marriages together.

9/28/20222 min read


According to Nigerian law, there are several different kinds of marriage. In Nigeria, a court wedding is the most common type. Essentially, it can be said there four major types of marriage that can be conducted in Nigeria. These include the statutory marriage; customary marriage; church marriage; and Islamic marriage. However, it is common in Nigeria for a single couple to conduct at least three different kinds of marriages together.


Customary Marriage is also known as Traditional Marriage. It is the marriage according to the Custom or Native Law of a particular society which could be the custom of the bride’s community or ethnic group where the Customary Marriage is observed.

For a Customary Marriage to be valid, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

Consent of Parents and guardian of the bride and Consent between the parties to marry each other. This consent must be given before celebration of the Marriage. In the case of Osanwoyi v Osanwoyi, A and B were married under the Custom and Native law. B paid a dowry of sixty thousand (60,000) to A’s Father without the knowledge and consent of A. The Court held that there was no valid marriage between A and B under the Customary Law. Thus, before a Customary Marriage is valid, both parties have to agree to marry each other and the parents who will receive the bride price also have to give an approval. This was judicially furnished in Okpanum v Okpanum (3) where the court held that in order to constitute a valid Customary Marriage, there must be parental consent and mutual agreement between the Parties. This was also held in other customary law cases in Nigeria.

Payment of Bride price. The groom must pay a bride price to the parents or guardian of the bride as the case may be. And the groom must comply with their Marriage list or requirements in order take the bride away from their Custody.

The Marriage must be between Citizens of Nigeria. That is to say that the Marriage between a Nigerian and Non-Nigerian is void under the Customary Law. In the case of Savage v Maltery (4) the Court held that the Marriage between a Yoruba girl and a Sierra Leonean man is void and in Fonesca v Passman (5) same was held for the Marriage between an Efik girl and a Portuguese man.

The Marriage must be free from Consanguinity and affinity. That is to say that parties to the Marriage should not be related by blood or birth otherwise the marriage will be void. In most customs, it is an abomination to marry or have sex with someone of the same blood. Thus, where a Marriage is between two people of same blood e.g. brother and sister, mother and son, male and female cousin, such marriage by virtue of it’s Consanguinity is void under the Customary Law.

And also, the marriage must be conducted in accordance with the custom of the particular society.


A statutory marriage also called the registry marriage in Nigeria is actually a voluntary union for life of one male and one female to the exclusion of all others in line with statutes. Put simply, a statutory marriage in Nigeria is monogamous marriage. Examples include marriages done at the Court Registry and marriage done in a licensed place of worship (church marriage).

The principal legislation regulating statutory marriages in Nigeria are:

  • The Marriage Act;

  • Matrimonial Causes Act Cap M7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;

  • Matrimonial Causes Rules made pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact



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