A Court declares 23 year co-habitation of a couple as no marriage

published Sept. 1, 2020, 4:04 a.m. by mariamagboola

A Court declares 23 year co-habitation of a couple as no marriage

A father of five was who had approached an upper area court in Jos for the dissolution of his marriage was held spell bond when the judge declared that his 23 year old union with his so called wife was no marriage and therefore, there was nothing to dissolve.

Ademola Azeez had approached Upper Area Court in Jos that he wanted his marriage to Elizabeth which he said was conceived under Edo/Yoruba traditions and customs dissolved. The union had produced three boys and two girls.

He had prayed the court to grant him the custody of the children.
According to the plaintiff, he has not enjoyed a proper marriage in the last 15 years; accusing his wife of infidelity, outward disrespect to him and often keeping late nights.

He said ‘some people usually drop her at home between 10pm and 11pm’ and she was always cooking his meals late. He also faulted the way she was raising their children; alleging that his insistence that his wife should stop moving with her sister and cousin who were giving her bad advice fell on deaf ears.
Giving the preambles on which he based his judgment of no marriage, the sole judge V. S Garba said Ademola’s claim that he married her under Edo /Yoruba customs and traditions and that he paid N1, 500, as bride price including giving cartons of beer and twelve wrappers to her late father was contradicted by the respondent and the prosecution witness in the case.

The witness, Ogbon Dan Odunse who is an uncle to the wife said no marriage was contracted between them; explaining that the couple did not receive blessings from the bride’s family and were just cohabiting.

He said the respondent is not Edo as claimed by the husband but from Akwa Ibom state explaining that she was staying with a custom officer in Jos before she ran away with plaintiff and got pregnant for him. He never paid any bride price on her.
In 1999, when the respondent’s father died and the two of them came for the burial, the plaintiff said he was not prepared for the marriage rite and promised to come back later for it but he never did. And in 2015 when her mother died, it was only the wife that came for burial and the husband sent message that he had already filed for a divorce.

The second prosecution witness was the first daughter of the couple confirmed that their mother was always coming late but that the man that was always dropping her at night has been responsible for the payment of her school fees and that of her other siblings.

In her defense, the respondent insisted that she has been carrying out her duty diligently as a wife but that her husband has not been havoing any intimacy with her for a long time.

The judge explained that before the marriage which the plaintiff is seeking its termination could be dissolved; the court must first establish if there was a valid marriage between the couple. He said even though they have been together for 23 years and it was incumbent on the plaintiff to prove there was marriage between them.

The judge pointed out that a letter submitted by the respondent’s family, Nto Okoro Family Union, (NOFAU) Ikot Inyang Ikot Ekpene to the court also claimed that there was no marriage between them. He said though the petitioner claimed that he paid a bride price on her, the uncle had debunked this and he believes that in any traditional marriage in Nigeria as a whole, an uncle always play prominent role.
He said the petitioner has failed to mention how the customary marriage was performed and what role

his wife’s parents and even his own parents from Yoruba land played in consummating the marriage rite.
He said the testimony of PW1 regarding the state of origin of the respondent cast doubt to the claim that there was any marriage between the two of them.
The judge therefore asked ‘how can a court dissolve a marriage that never existed?
On the second prayer that he should have the custody of the children, the judge said it is obvious that the court cannot say anything about that, under the present circumstance.
He therefore dismissed the case saying there is no case because there was no marriage; He said the plaintiff has the right to appeal.

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Mariam Agboola

A graduate of Political Science from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria,had a stint in the teaching profession berfore going to a post graduate Diploma in Journalism. Ever since she has remained in the profession for which she is passionate about and she tells those that care to listen that "it is the best profession in the universe"