Contrary to the erroneous belief of many people, concubinage is not a criminal offence in Nigeria, whether or not the relationship produces children, in as much as it does not metamorphose into marriage.
Thus, a married man or woman can have several sleeping partners called ” Ale” in Yoruba land and will not be criminally liable unless there occurs a celebration of another marriage which amounts to bigamy.
The only option available to the partner of a philandering man or woman is to seek divorce in the court of law and get a decree for dissolution of marriage. Beating, battering and inflicting injuries on the philandering partner or the concubine will only get the spouse, who is “fighting for his or her right’ into trouble – a big one at that. The case will turn around and the hunter will become the hunted.
Of course, a man or woman sleeping with your spouse has committed no known criminal offence in Nigeria but if you beat, injure or worst still, kill him/ her, you are the one who have committed an offence and you will face the full wrath of the law.
The concubine can commence either a civil or a criminal case of assualt against you and if he/she has a very good lawyer, he/she might be advise to commence both ciminal and civil matters against you. In civil case, he/ she will be asking you for damages worth million of Naira, which the court might award if she is able to present her case on the balance of probability.
If the criminal case is properly prosecuted, the spouse who has assaulted his /her spouse’s concubine will be sentenced to 3 years inprisonment.
Thus, the best thing to do when you cannot put up with your cheating partner is to seek a divorce.
For the benefit of all of us, I will like to share with you the ground for dissolution of marriage in Nigeria in the subsequent paragraphs.
Ground for Dissolution of Marriage
The Act under Section 15 to 16 states the ground for dissolution of marriage and the particulars of fact upon which the grounds for dissolution of marriage can arise. The sole ground for instituting an action for dissolution of marriage in Nigeria is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. What this means is that the reason for the petition is so severe that the marriage cannot be repaired.
It is further stated that for the court to hear a petition for the dissolution of marriage, the petitioner must satisfy the court of at least one or more of the facts stated below:
- That the respondent has willingly and persistently refused to consummate the marriage. For this fact to be pleaded, the petitioner must prove that the respondent has failed to have sexual intercourse h he/she, but where it is proved that sex occurred even once, the marriage will be deemed consummated and therefore the petitioner cannot rely on this ground for divorce.
- That since the marriage the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent. For this fact to hold water in court, the petitioner must prove that not only does the other party commit adultery but he/she finds it unbearable to live with such infidelity.
- That since the marriage the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
- That the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the presentation of the petition. The desertion means that the respondent has abandoned the matrimonial home without justification.
- That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition does not object to the decree of dissolution being granted
- That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition
- That the other party to the marriage has for a period not less than one year failed to comply with a decree of restitution of conjugal right made under the Marriage Causes Act.
- That the other party to the marriage has been absent from the petitioner for such time and in such circumstances has to provide reasonable grounds for presuming that he/ she is dead.
The action for dissolution of a statutory marriage can be brought under any one or more of the facts stated above before the court can make a decree for dissolution of marriage.
The decrees the High Court of the State can make are two orders called Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute. This means that the Decree Nisi is made first and this order gives the opportunity of the other party to appeal the decision of the court and the second order of Decree absolute is made 3 months after the first decree as provided under section 58 of the Act. The Decree Nisi is made absolute after 3 months where no appeal is made and there is no right to appeal the decision of the court after it has been made absolute.
The marriage is completely dissolved where the order of decree absolute is made. The effect of dissolving a statutory marriage is that a party to the marriage can marry again as if the marriage had been dissolved by death.
For more explanation or clarification, you can reach the writer on:
08027774196, 08138769066 or