The process of enforcing marriage rights in Nigeria may be tedious and rigorous for wives. Access to funds may pose serious difficulty in the enforcement of rights. There are however ways to get institutional and financial support to enforce marriage rights. Support can be gotten from governmental and non-governmental agencies whose mandate includes the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Nigeria.
A number of government agencies have a mandate and the capacity to offer help in the form of legal advice or even legal representation. These agencies are:
1. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):
The NHRC is a governmental agency established for the protection, promotion, and enforcement of human rights. One of the focal areas of the NHRC is the rights of women and gender related matters. The NHRC presently has state offices in all 36 States in Nigeria.
The NHRC can be contacted by phone: 08006472428 (Toll Free), 092903746, 092908829, 09032192577, 07041678566, 07053529460 or by email.
A report can be made by calling the numbers above and speaking to an officer of the commission, who will then provide further instructions.
It may be necessary to send a detailed mail using the email address above or visit the NHRC office in your state.
An officer will be assigned to listen to your complaint, determine what type of case it is and open a file for you. A list of all the state branches can be found on the NHRC’s website.
2. The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs:
The federal ministry is concerned with gender and children issues. Through its Gender and Development Branch, the ministry offers material and financial support to women who may not afford to enforce their marriage rights.
The Ministry can be contacted by phone: 092902382 or by filling the form provided on the website.
3. The Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON):
The Council has a mandate to ensure equal access to justice. LACON offers free legal services to indigent persons (persons whose income is not more than the national minimum wage), among others. The present minimum wage is N30,000.00 per month.
The council offers free legal advice and pro-bono(free) legal services in respect of civil and criminal cases.
Law clinics around the country can offer support by helping to link you with lawyers that offer pro-bono (free) legal service. These services include free legal advice, representation in courts and connecting victims with agencies that may be helpful to their quest for enforcement of their rights.
The Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI) has published a compendium of clinic-based law faculties in Nigeria. Information on the Law Clinic closest to you can be found here.