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Is Love By Force In Law?
Published Nov 05, 2022 IN LAW & SOCIETY,
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 LOVE is said to make the world go round, and all would certainly agree that it is this beautiful emotion that gives life its flavour.

When Mr. and Mrs. XY decided to throw a big party to mark their tenth wedding anniversary, the wife was pleasantly surprised that her husband had decided to choose her cousin, Barrister ST, as chairman of the occasion. The marriage of the couple, by any standard, had so far been a success: blessed with love and laughter, and the gift of two wonderful sons and two beautiful daughters...

Mrs. XY (nee ST) was twenty-eight years old when she had met Mr. XY and fallen in love with him. She was a first-rate caterer who had a well-paid job in a big hotel in the State Capital. Mr. XY was at that time a thirty-two-year-old middle-cadre civil servant whose salary was never enough to tie around his needs from month to month. He was a good-looking man and, from all appearances, a most eligible bachelor. But he was a man who nursed a secret phobia for marriage. From when he had turned twenty-seven, his close friends had started settling down and expecting him to do the same. He had dated a number of good girls, but whenever any girlfriend would begin to expect him to pop the question, he had always chickened out. That was why it had come as a big surprise to his friends when, less than three months after he had started dating Miss ST (as she then was), he had proposed marriage to her. Barrister ST was one acquaintance of Mr. XY’s who had never taken him seriously on the issue of marriage, and so when he had heard that XY had proposed to none other than his favourite cousin, he had become alert. Remembering his Boy Scouts’ injunction ‘BE PREPARED’, the lawyer had convinced the lovebirds to give a small party inviting a number of their mutual friends to witness their ‘formal engagement’: which they did.

At that party, Barrister ST personally got a photographer to cover the event, and even had it videoed, much to Mr. XY’s disapproval.

‘No sweat, ol’ boy! There’s nothing to it,’ Barrister ST had told Mr. XY reassuringly. ‘I’m only taking the pictures because I’m happy for you two.’

The fact, however, was that the lawyer personally knew Mr. XY to be the male version of the ‘RUNAWAY BRIDE’. He could see that his favourite cousin was head-over-heels in love with the man and nothing would make her believe that the fate of the other women in his life whom he had jilted would ever befall her. Knowing love to be quite blind, the learned gentleman had decided to stand in the gap to protect his own.

Mr. XY fixed the date for their wedding as the Boxing Day of that year. Whereupon former Miss ST began to show him what a caring and generous lady she really was. She gave her Toyota Camry car to Mr. XY, helped him to make up the purchase price of his plot at the Core Area, and gave him money to start the electronics business he had been planning to go into for years. In short, in no time at all, she had helped to stand Mr. XY firmly on his feet financially.

Then on November 30th, Mr. XY called his fiancée on the phone, saying:

‘Sweet, there’s fire on the mountain o! Please, let’s see at my place immediately you close from work.’

She kept the appointment as soon as she possibly could. Her heart flew into her mouth when she saw her fiancé’s face soaked in tears, little knowing that it was mere crocodile tears.

‘What’s the matter, honey? What has happened?’ she asked with concern.

‘It’s just my bad luck!’ Mr. XY cried like a baby. ‘My pastor friend called me this afternoon, sweet. He warned me seriously against going ahead with our proposed marriage. Hmmm! Hmmm! Pastor said he saw a vision in which the Holy Spirit revealed to him that you and I are not meant for each other. He said we would die in the first month if we dared to ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sweet, I’m sorry but we have to call off this wedding.’

The lady was shattered. But when Barrister ST heard that Mr. XY had cancelled his proposed marriage to his cousin, what the lawyer said was: ‘Typical! I’ve been prepared for the lousy “RUNAWAY GROOM”. He had better get ready to have the Holy Spirit subpoenaed to testify in court for him. Bloody liar!’

That very same week, Barrister ST helped his heartbroken cousin to file a suit against Mr. XY for BREACH OF PROMISE OF MARRIAGE, claiming N10 million Damages. Upon the Writ of Summons being served on him, Mr. XY consulted his own lawyer, asking this most germane question:

‘Please, tell me sincerely, Barrister. In law, is love by force?’

‘It depends,’ was his lawyer’s reply. ‘Now, don’t get me wrong: no law can force love. But considering all that you’ve told me, this lady is madly in love with you and you led her on to believe that the feeling was mutual. You made future plans together and, believing that she was as good as married to you already, she relinquished her car for your use and gave you money to set up a business. You see? The PROMISE you made her was followed by CONSIDERATION from her end: and that is what makes it justiciable. That, too, must have been why my learned friend took those snapshots at your engagement party. No doubt, he believes that with those pictures he stands a good chance of proving before the court that you made a “firm and binding” PROMISE OF MARRIAGE to the lady, which Promise you owe - not only a moral - but a legal duty to make good, or be liable to pay Damages to her for its Breach.’

‘So are you telling me, Barrister, that they have a good case - that there is actually a cause of action known as “BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY”?’

‘Certainly, there is such an action as “BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY”,’ said the lawyer, ‘but as to whether or not they have a good case, we shall find that out when we get to court.’

‘Ha! Court, for real? No, Barrister, I don’t want to go to court with her, if I can help it. I like her; it’s not as if I didn’t. The truth is just that I’m not ready to settle down yet - with anybody. Don’t you understand? A wife at this time will only tie me down. Sincerely speaking, I haven’t finished bubbling.’

‘Good. Then pay her N10 million and bubble on with your life,’ advised his lawyer.

‘Holy God, Barrister! Where do you think that someone like me can find N10 million?’

‘Then marry the lady and quit being such a coward!’

And he followed the advice... Now as he celebrated ten years anniversary of a blissful marriage, Mr. XY could no longer hide his gratitude to Barrister ST who, with a whip of iron, cured him of his phobia of marriage.


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