Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday expressed divergent views over the introduction of online divorce applications by the British authorities.
The recently launched application in England and Wales was to ease the divorce process for those going through it.
Those who spoke to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said that such initiative would not work in Nigeria against the backdrop of the innovation, cultural differences and high level of illiteracy in the country.
Joe Amedu, a Legal Officer at National Bio-safety Management Agency, said that, even though the nation’s legal system had been modeled after the British system, filing divorce papers online would be a nullity because electronic documents could not serve as primary evidence in Nigerian law.
Mr Amedu further explained that anything that has to do with electronically generated documents are regarded as secondary evidence in law and not admissible by court in Nigeria.
“What is practiced in America is the Jural legal system, where a group of people called the Jury would decide the final judgement of the court,’’ he said.
Similarly, Soga Dairo, a lawyer with Soga Dairo and Co. said that filing court processes online in Nigeria was still “a mirage as you have to encounter so many bottlenecks”.
He further stated that a lot of factors could militate against the introduction of filing divorce online including citizens’ literacy level and government’s unwillingness to expend money on such a projects, as it would gulp a lot of money.
“UK is an advanced country and it could work for them, not so here in Nigeria.
“As for the benefits, if properly executed it will fast-track the process of divorce, discourage corruption and give room for efficiency.’’
Laleye Solomon, Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna said online divorce process cannot work in the country, alleging that Nigerians are special species that can manipulate processes.
“The online divorce is also alien to our traditional culture so it cannot work here because in every culture, there are procedures for marriage and divorce.
“Even when we imbibe western marriage, we add it to our culture which is why we do engagement before church or court wedding and what percentage of couples in Nigeria have access to the internet.’’
He further added that, if divorce process was made online, someone could file divorce on behalf of another because they are interested in the other losing his or her marriage.
Similarly, Samuel Mogaji, a commercial driver in the FCT said that online filing of divorce papers would not stand the test of time even if the Nigerian judiciary decided to adopt it.
According to Mr Mogaji, majority of Nigerians are not computer literate and the introduction of online divorce procedure will only be of help to a very few that are familiar with the computer operates.
“It cannot work because of our tradition. You have a lot of illiterates in Nigeria, especially if you go to the far north; how can they file divorce papers online when they barely know how to write their names?
“It is only possible for the educated ones to adopt this system but I don’t think we will get even 10 per cent successful online divorces if introduced into the system,’’ he said.
Colonel A.E. Edet of Mogadishu Cantonment said that few Nigerians who partake in court marriage, would get inclined to filing online divorce papers and their prayers granted.
“In Nigeria, most couples do not even care if there is anything called `court wedding.
“A man can wake up one morning and decide that he is no longer interested in the marriage and that marks the end of it.’’
However, Asanya Ifeanyi of Asanya and Associates said that filing divorce papers online would help save so much time on paper work if it is eventually adopted by the Nigerian judiciary.
Mr Asanya explained that the introduction of online divorce would save both the intending divorcees and their lawyers the stress of filing papers.
She stated that the grounds for divorce was usually adultery, incest, irreconcilable differences and bestiality among others, adding that lawyers often determine the ground for such divorce based on the petitioner’s complaint.
According to her, divorce is dissolution of marriage, if you do not have an existing marriage under the act you will have to file your divorce petition at the customary court.
“The procedure has just been put in place in England and Wales and we hope that our judicial system will find a way to adopt this system,’’ she added.
Ogunmola Adeolu, another legal practitioner also said that in Nigeria, the ground for divorce was that such marriage had broken down irretrievably.
He added that for a marriage to be dissolved, it must have lasted for two years except in some exceptional cases.