LADIES TAKE NOTE: IF A GUY PROMISES TO MARRY YOU BUT FAILS TO DO THAT AND MARRIES A DIFFERENT LADY, YOU CAN SUE HIM. By O. G. Chukkol.


In this era of heart breaks, Ladies if you don't know, know it today that breach of promise to marry is a wrong in law and in simple terms it means going back on an undertaking to marry someone. That is to say for you to succeed to succeed in an action for breach of promise to marry, you need to prove just two things.

(1) that a guy promised to marry you and

(2) that the guy has changed his mind not to marry you again.

Once you prove the two points above, court will make an order that you should be compensated. The reason for this civil wrong is generally to protect ladies from unscrupulous guys.

HOW CAN YOU PROVE BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY?

Ladies your work has been eased with the enactment of the Evidence Act 2011. The use of messages sent via electronic means can be accepted as evidence in proof of the breach (S.84 of the Evidence Act). Meaning, chats on social media like: Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, etc where promise to marry was made can also be tendered in court. This is very important as we have so many swindlers who go online to dupe desperate ladies with promise of marriage as baits to such ladies.

You can also prove by oral testimony in court. This may require corroboration from other witnesses who will establish that there was indeed an agreement to marry. The court will also take into consideration all the facts and circumstances of the case as the mere fact that somebody referred to another as his “WIFE TO BE” OR “HUSBAND TO BE” does not necessarily imply a promise to marry. See the case of Ezeanah v. Atta (2004) 7 NWLR (Pt. 873)468.

BUT WHAT IF THE PERSON WHO BREACHED HIS PROMISE TO MARRY YOU IS A MARRIED MAN?

Well, this may depend on whether the man's marriage is under Islamic Law, Customary law, or under the Act (Christian/Court Marriage). It also depends on where the promise to marry took place.

If the man's marriage is under customary or Islamic Law, he will still be liable because polygamy is allowed. But if his marriage is a Christian/Court marriage then he cannot be liable because polygamy is a crime. By virtue of section 370 of the Criminal Code applicable to the Southern part of the country and section 384 of the Penal Code applicable to the Northern of Nigeria, it is a criminal offence for a lawfully married person to contract another marriage. This type of crime is known as bigamy. The position is the same in all the states of the federation except Lagos (it is the only state in Nigeria that does not recognize bigamy). It should be noted however that in the North the crime is applicable to a Christian only but in the South even a Muslim cannot marry more than one, except Lagos.

Therefore a married man will simply tell court that your case should be dismissed because polygamy is a crime and any agreement to commit a crime is generally unenforceable. The Latin maxim that lawyers use to describe such situation is "ex turpi causa non oritur actio", meaning an action cannot arise on an illegality. and court cannot lend aid to a person whose action is based on an act that is illegal or contrary to public policy ("Ex dolo malo oritur actio" is the maxim for that).

You can however sue a married man for deceit if you did not know that he was married thorughout the period of your relationship. But if you knew that he was married when he promised to marry you, then just carry your cross!

So ladies, the next time your fiancé dumps you you and go for another lady don't cause any trouble because doing that will lead you to prison. Straight to court!
That was what a woman did in Mabamije vs Otto (2016) LPELR 26058 ( SC) and her tears where wiped.

TAKE NOTE that a guy may raise defences to justify the breach. Example, that you deceived him (into believing that you had womb, you were not a lesbian, you were healthy etc) that was why he promised to marry you and court may accept his defence.


O. G. Chukkol,
oliverchukkol@gmail.com

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