It has become a common practice in Nigeria for parties who intend to contract a statutory marriage to marry first under customary law before the solemnization of the statutory marriage. This practice may be explained by the fact that though Western civilization and culture have permeated Nigerian society, most people, even the most sophisticated understandably regard themselves as bound by the customary law of their place of origin. The Nigerian Marriage Act has given validity to this practice by enabling who are married under Customary Law to marry each other under the statute.
Some legal questions arise from this practice. It is uncertain whether the statutory marriage supersedes, for all intent and purposes, the previous customary-law marriage, or if the customary law marriage is merely put into abeyance to retrieve after the subsequent statutory marriage has come to an end. There is also the question of whether both marriages co-exist.
The purpose of this project will be to examine all this questions and the position of such marriages and the associated problems in Nigeria.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The essence of marriage in the society cannot be overemphasised, as some marry for the sake of children, some marry to fulfil sexual urge. In advanced country, it is a common phenomenon to see people engage in “contractual marriage” i.e marriage agreement either for months, years or for a specific period. In fact men marry men and women marry women.
In Nigeria, apart from statutory marriage, the other form of marriage is customary marriage. The basic feature of statutory marriage is marriage according to the provision of common law which customary marriage is marriage according to the tradition. In between these two, there appear what we call “a batlike” marriage otherwise known as double-decker marriage.
The issue now is, what is the essence of wasting money on the same marriage twice despite the economic problem prevalent in our country, both socio-cultural and economic associate the double-decker marriage as a pointer to the final associated problem which serves as the basic background for this project.
Therefore, what are the issues, problem and is there any prospect in this double-decker marriage. What is the essence of such marriage since the court has held in Jadesimi v. Okotiebo5 that the status of customary marriage is also statutorily recognised in Nigeria.