An image depicting divorce. Photo source – Google Image/ PulseNg
Claim: A Twitter user tweeted that over 4,000 couples applied for divorce in January 2023.
Our findings show that the figures for divorce filed in January in the FCT are way lower than 4,000. Statistics from the High Court at Maitama, which is the headquarters of all high courts in the FCT, show only 32 cases of divorce were filed in January 2023.
In recent times, Nigerians have raised concerns around the rising divorce cases, especially among young couples, with more individuals looking southward when discussions around marriage as an institution are mentioned.
Premium Times also reports that couples file for divorce due to issues around lack of compatibility, abandonment, infidelity, and so much more. These factors make it imperative to ensure that information that is digested by the general public, especially on social media, is accurate and will not be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Consequently, a Twitter user, Shaba Baba Muhammad (@spychief), in a viral tweet viewed by over 51,000 Twitter users and shared multiple times on other social media platforms, alleged over 4,000 divorce cases have been filed in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, in January alone.
He states that these couples are mostly less than one year in the marital institution.
Other users in the thread of the tweet questioned the source of the claim by the user.
The importance of verifying this claim is due to the engagement that has followed since it was first shared and to enlighten the general public on the accurate number of divorce cases filed in the month under review, as this will help bring an end to this falsehood being peddled annually.
Although there’s a spate of rising divorce cases, as young people are becoming weary of the marital institution, figures made available to DUBAWA’s researcher show the figure is not as high as 4,000.
DUBAWA visited the high court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja and found out that only 32 divorce cases have been filed as of January 24, 2023. The researcher was, however, not allowed to take pictures of the document showing the number of cases filed during the visit.
Knowing that the FCT comprises six Local Government Areas (LGA), DUBAWA clarified from a cross-section of legal practitioners across different firms. Some are highlighted below, including practitioners from Kanu Agabi and Associates, who clarified that although there are other divisional courts in the FCT, the high court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama is the headquarters – as it is in the heart of Abuja.
A lawyer and child rights activist, Elizabeth Achimugu, in an interview with DUBAWA, explained that what determines the court consideration of divorce depends on the type of wedding the couple had.
She noted that under the Marriage Act and Matrimonial Causes Act, there are only two types of the wedding; the customary wedding and marriage under the Act. Marriage under the Act is the popular one called a Court Wedding, done by a licensed place of worship or the relevant ministry.
She further explained that for Abuja, all matters filed at the High Court are filed at the High Court at Maitama because Maitama is the headquarters of all high courts.
“For marriage under the Act, divorce is conducted at the state’s high court. The high court of the state is the court that entertains dissolution of marriage under the Act. The other is the customary marriage done in churches not licensed, traditional wedding and Islamic marriage.
“So, for this type of marriage, you must go to a customary court. In Abuja, we have an Area Court, so you must go to the Area Court or Sharia Court. For marriage under the Act, it is only the high court,” she said.
A physical assessment of the number of cases filed after a visit to the High Court in Bwari Area council in the FCT showed 19 divorce cases filed so far in 2023. However, we could not get statistics for the other individual LGAs.
DUBAWA also spoke to an Abuja-based lawyer Stanley Alieke who adjudged the claim as over-bloated and outrageous.
“Lawyers get divorce cases, but cases filed in the federal capital territory do not come close to one thousand in a month, and some get one case per day, but exaggerating the figure is equivalent to sharing misleading information,” he added.
Another lawyer, Femi Balogun, the principal partner of F&B Attorneys, said the assertion made by the Twitter user is incorrect and a far cry from the reality of divorce cases filed in Abuja.
Also, a keyword search shows this is a recirculated narrative from 2021 to 2022 and now 2023, all with the exact figure(4,000).
DUBAWA sent a message to the claimant to verify his claim’s source, but no response was provided.
A counter tweet by James Alabaster IV(@alabaster_IV) cautioned that this information had been recycled over the years at the beginning of every new year to instil fear in the minds of unmarried adults.
DUBAWA’s findings show that the divorce cases filed in January in Nigeria’s capital are 32, which is not close to 4,000 cases. Hence the claim is false.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Summitpost News to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.
SUMMIT POST (www.summitpostnews.com) is an Online news medium, powered by Highland Media Ltd. We publish a wide range of content, including Politics, Business, Sports and Entertainment on and about Nigeria, Africa and beyond. Follow us on social media for all the latest news and analysis.
Contact us: WhatsApp: +234-803-209-6072; Call: +234-705-252-6124