By Jerry Obanyero
Recently, the media space has been dominated by the sad news of a Chinese national, Geng Quangrong, who allegedly murdered his Nigerian lover, 23-year-old Ummu Kulthum, in Kano State, Nigeria.
According to police, the suspect, who was immediately arrested, alleged that he was cheated by the deceased who had promised to marry him but disowned him after lavishing so much money on her. With the unfortunate death of Ummu, many questions have arisen, one of which is whether there is a breach of promise to marry in our law and to what extent can it be remedied.
In legal parlance, a Promise of Marriage is simply defined as a firm mutual agreement between the parties to marry. In contract law, when parties exchange promises, each promise becomes consideration for the other promise. Promise of marriage is synonymous with being engaged or betrothed. Thus, breach of the promise of marriage encompasses the failure of one party to fulfill said promise. In other words, breach of promise of marriage is a common law tort that arises when one party breaks a promise made to marry the other party.
In Nigeria, as in many common law countries, marriage is a binding contract. It is seen from the point of view of a contract. Like contracts, a promise of marriage can be written, oral or hybrid. In addition, an aggrieved party may bring an action in the competent court to enforce a breach of promise of marriage or seek relief against the party who breaches the promise. Although, unlike a commercial contract, the court is always reluctant to grant specific performance against a party in a breach of contract action. Specific permanency involves a court order issued to a party to do a particular act that they had promised or agreed to do in a contract. Since the court will not compel an uninterested party to sue the marriage in the event of a breakdown, to mitigate the adverse effects on the aggrieved party, the court will award damages, which are primarily financial compensation for loss or the injuries sustained. Compensation covers money spent, loss of valuables, loss of time, emotional trauma and humiliation.
To successfully establish a case of breach of promise of marriage, there are factors that the court will consider. Was there in fact a promise of marriage? Has the party broken that promise? A promise of marriage goes beyond the simple intention of settling down with a man or a woman in the future. It’s not a simple love story or romance, although that may affect the evidence. There must be consideration provided directly related to the parties’ agreement to marry. There should be elements of offer, acceptance, intention to create a legal relationship and the ability of the parties to enter into a contract. For example, an offer of marriage made by one party should also be accepted by the party to whom the offer is made. Both parties must intend that their action will be bound by law. In addition, the parties must possess the legal capacity to enter into the contract, i.e. they must be legally qualified in terms of age, mental health, etc. to agree to marry. Finally, the court will check whether a party has reneged on his promise. A mere postponement of the marriage or a delay based on circumstances beyond the control of one party cannot constitute a breach of the promise of marriage. However, a deliberate and consistent postponement may be considered an implied violation, and the court may consider it a violation.
In conclusion, without prejudging the police investigation and the outcome of the trial in the Ummu Kulthum case, the author is of the opinion that Geng Quangrong’s action violates applicable law, including the matrimonial causes and the judicial decision on remedies in the event of breach of promise. marry. Additionally, the defense of emotional turmoil and distortion of reason produced by pain and jealousy that resulted in murder may not serve Geng to rely on the facts of the case unless other facts emerge. in the future. Geng, as he is, is a defendant in a murder case and if found guilty, he can face the penalty under the Penal Code. He must, however, be granted all the rights enshrined in the constitution, including the right to a fair trial and access to his lawyers. The judiciary should also ensure that justice is served objectively and expeditiously.
Obanyero is a lawyer and advocate for fair and equal access to legal services and justice. He can be reached at [email protected]