The marrying of more than one wife is known as polygamy and it is practiced by so many countries in the world. The marrying of more than one wife is a practice still observed by a large percentage of people in Nigeria. Although polygamy is frowned upon by the Constitution and most educated individuals it hasn’t stopped it from being practiced.
Polygamy is practiced mainly by those who practice traditional customs and other religious groups- the Muslims and traditional worshipers- claiming you are allowed to marry up to four or more wives as long as you can cater/provide for them although that is rarely the case.
How Many Wives can you marry in Nigeria?
Although the Nigerian Constitution permits only monogamous unions, you can marry as many as you please. While the Christian religion frowns on anything outside monogamy, it’s not uncommon for Christians to marry multiple wives. Islam, on the other hand, allows for marriage to up to four wives.
Matrimony in Nigeria
Legally, the Nigerian Constitution recognizes only monogamous marriages and allows only one slot in the marriage registry whether it be a Moslem or Christian, or traditional couple. Whereas up to thirty percent of the total states (northern states that practice Islam hence guided by the sharia law that says a man is allowed to marry up to four wives) recognize polygamy as equivalent to monogamy.
Although the practice is not legally accepted in the country, it is not strange to see that some particular members of society such as traditional leaders, chiefs and title bearers, Muslims, and even Christians sometimes marry two wives or more.
As a stranger or foreigner, if you are asking the question of “how many wives one can marry in Nigeria?” the answer would not be certainly one or multiple. It would be safer to say that you can marry more than one wife in Nigeria even though it is not a legally accepted practice it is not also a practice punishable by the constitutional law of the country.
Marrying multiple wives in Nigeria can sometimes come in form of a responsibility; take for instance traditional demands that a son marries his father’s widow(s) or a man would need to have two wives to gain a particular title and so on. And in cases of religious beliefs, not all Muslims end up with four wives as their religion preaches, there are some Muslims that do not marry any more than one wife.
The royal families can marry as many wives as they want, the religious leaders such as imams and chief priests can marry up to twenty wives and the common man can marry up to four wives as long as the demands of the woman’s family are met satisfactorily.
Do people who practice polygamy in Nigeria get punished?
No, they don’t. Although polygamy is a practice not legal in Nigeria, there is no punishment attached to its practice in as much as the husband is able to meet the demands of each of the wives’ families.
Do only uneducated people marry more than one wife?
No, that’s not true. Marrying more than one wife is not a practice limited to only the uneducated people; there are in fact educated people who have multiple wives. Polygamy is a matter of choice rather than qualifications.
How many wives can one marry maximum?
The number of wives one can marry is limitless in as much that the husband can pay the dowry of these women and provide and cater for them he can marry even up to a hundred wives.
Do Christians practice polygamy?
Yes, they do. Some Christians due to their personal beliefs or traditional background marry more than one wife. Some may have already had more than one wife before their conversion into the Christian fold whereas some marry more wives even while they are already Christians.
Is it only in Nigeria that polygamy is practiced?
Polygamy is practiced in so many countries in the world, Nigeria is only just one among the many.
Can one marry two wives legally in Nigeria?
No, you can’t register two wives in Nigeria. The marriage registry allows only one slot per union so the only way a man can register another woman as his wife in court is after he has divorced his previous wife.
Can you have a court marriage twice?
No, you cannot hold a court marriage two times.
Can foreigners In Nigeria marry more than one wife?
Yes, they can only if they are from countries where their constitution says it isn’t illegal to have multiple wives.