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Court Upholds Dissolution of 15 Years-Old Marriage Over Infidelity

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has upheld the dissolution a 15 year-old marriage between a businessman, Kingsley Onyenobi and his wife Chioma.

An Agege Grade A Customary Court, presided over by Mr. Phillip Williams, had in 2016 dissolved the marriage between the couple on grounds of irreconcilable differences. 

In his judgment at the lower court, William held that the allegation of infidelity brought against Chioma by her husband Kingsley was enough ground to dissolve the marriage. 

The Court President also held that two marriage certificates tendered by the respondent to prove that her marriage was contracted under the Marriage Act were discovered to be fake.

The court, however, asked both parties to maintain status quo on the custody of the children since it had no jurisdiction to make any pronouncement in that regards.

Not satisfied with the decision of the customary court, Chioma approached the Lagos High Court for an order to reverse the judgment.

In a motion filed before the High Court, Chioma contended that Agege Customary Court lacked the power to dissolve her marriage, which she insisted was contracted under the marriage act.

She also asked the court to reverse the  order made by the customary court with regards to her children’s custody.

Onyenobi, however, countered his wife’s averments, insisting that their marriage was contracted under traditional laws and that the Agege Customary Court had the power to dissolve their marriage.

In his judgment, Justice Kazeem Alogba upheld the earlier decision of the customary court, which dissolved the marriage between the couple.

Alogba stated that although the appellant had claimed that her marriage was contracted under the marriage act, there was no evidence before him to prove the claims.

The judge  noted that the mere fact that a marriage was conducted in a church and marriage certificate issued does not prove that such marriage was conducted under the Marriage Act.

Justice Alogba further held that the Agege Customary Court acted within the law by assuming jurisdiction and delivering its judgment.

The judge, however, held that the lower court overreached its powers by making a pronouncement with regards to children’s custody. 

Alogba maintained that since the lower court rightfully observed that it had no powers to adjudicate on custody of children in a marriage, it ought not to have made any pronouncement in that regards.

The judge consequently over-ruled the status quo pronouncement of the lower court and directed that the custody issue be referred to the family court.‎

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