As the impact of the COVID
19 pandemic bites harder, and with the resultant prohibition of public
gathering, intending married couples are beginning to consider the option of
online platforms to perform their wedding ceremonies. Infact, some have
attempted, albeit, futilely to conducted their “wedding ceremony” online. 

With this publication, the
writer intends to briefly expose the dangers that inhere in this novel idea,
which according to many is cost effective.


There are 3 (three)
recognized venues for wedding ceremonies in Nigeria Viz:

1) Marriage registry 

2) A licensed place of

3) Any place approved by the
Minister of Interior for the conduct of wedding ceremony. See Section 13 and 29
of the Matrimonial Causes Act.

Section 21 of the Marriage
Act provides that where marriage is to take place either in the Marriage
registry or a licenced place of worship, it must be “with open
doors”, hence, suggesting that online marriages are bereft of any legal
backing, as online platforms such as the zoom App etc, do not offer or
accommodate such facility. 

Again, section 23 of the
Marriage Act, prohibits religious minister from celebrating marriage, except in
a “building” which has been duly licensed by the Minister of

The express mention of
“building” in the said section, is an implied exclusion of online

Section 26 of the Marriage
Act provides for signature of the parties to the marriage, to be on the
marriage certificate. Sadly, Section 17 of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition and
Prevention) Act 2015, already excludes “Marriage Certificates” from
the circumference of documents which may be signed electronically”.


This form of marriage can
not be achieved under customary law as most customary marriages, require
presentation of list items such as kola nuts, palm wine or other alcoholic
beverages. This conditions cannot be fulfilled virtually. 

Lastly, online marriage is
not yet a recognized form of marriage under any customary law or in indigenous
community in Nigeria.

From the foregoing, it is
discernible that even with the power
s of the Minister of Interior to approve
other venues for wedding ceremonies, such powers does not extend to approval of
virtual venues, as the strictures relating to “Building” and
“with open doors” cannot be fulfilled virtually.

Arome Abu is the Principal
Partner of TCLP.

CAVEAT: Note that this
information is provided for general  enlightenment purposes and is not
intended to be any form of legal advice.

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