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.



In every community, marriage is considered imperative because it is the foundation upon which the society is founded. Although, marriage has no universally acceptable definition, hence it is dynamic in the sense that it cut across jurisdictions, race and tribes and the definition to be given to the concept will depend very much on the social and religious beliefs of a particular society. Marriage could be said to be the basis of the legal family, the leaned author, E.I. Nwogugu defined marriage as;

The fact being stressed here is that there is an element of divinity in the concept of marriage. This fact is evident in the Holy bible when it says thus „a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall leave unto his wife and they shall become one flesh‟2. The sanctity of marital institution is also traced to the Qur‟an, the holy book of faithful.