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THE NIGERIA SUPREME COURT RULES THAT FEMALES CAN INHERIT PROPERTY IN IGBOLAND

Chinazor ico 1Chinazor Onianwah
 The Supreme Court has voided the Igbo law and custom, which forbid a female from inheriting her late father’s estate, on the grounds that it is discriminatory and conflicts with the provision of the constitution.

The court held that the practice conflicted with section 42(1)(a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution. The judgment was on the appeal marked: SC.224/2004 filed by Mrs. Lois Chituru Ukeje (wife of the late Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje) and their son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje against Mrs. Cladys Ada Ukeje (the deceased’s daughter).

Cladys had sued the deceased’s wife and son before the Lagos High Court, claiming to be one of the deceased’s children and sought to be included among those to administer their deceased’s father’s estate.

 

The trial court found that he was a daughter to the deceased and that she was qualified to benefit from the estate of their father who died intestate in Lagos in1981.

The Court of Appeal, Lagos to which Mrs. Lois Ukeje and Enyinnaya Ukeje appealed, upheld the decision of the trail court, prompting them to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In its judgment last Friday, the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal, Lagos was right to have voided the Igbo’s native law and custom that disinherit female children.

Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read the lead judgment, held that “no matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her later father’s estate.

“Consequently, the Igbo customary law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate is breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian.

“The said discriminatory customary law is void as it conflicts with Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution. In the light of all that I have been saying, the appeal is dismissed. In the spirit of reconciliation, parties to bear their own costs,” Justice Rhodes-Vivour said.

Justices Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, Claral Bata Ogunbiyi, Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs and John Inyang Okoro, who were part of the panel that heard the appeal, agreed with the lead judgment.

Chinazor Onianwah As one who hails from an enclave of IGBOLAND, Igbo bu uzor or Ibuzor later anglicized Ibusa by the colonialists, I inherited a sizable plot of land from my grandfather. My grandmother, Ogolibuoku, his first of three wives, requested a portion of land from her husband, and he granted her request. My sisters and female cousins can request land if they desire one for any purpose. What appears to be a hindrance for the females is the assumption that they would eventually get married and inherit properties through their husband as my grandmother did and as a result, some greedy family members may have used it to prevent sharing their inheritance with their sisters or female siblings. But it’s 2016, not all Igbo female would marry Igbo men, and not all men would have a land to inherit. This is why the Supreme Court decision though late, is still welcome.

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Ozodi Osuji
Ozodi Osuji Please help me out here. I am confused. Are they talking about houses or lands? If lands, how is it going to work out. My osuji family has land, lots of it. We are not too far from Owerri town. Traditionally the boy children will share our land. The giSee More

Chinazor Onianwah
Chinazor Onianwah Ozodi Osuji, if I didn’t know you well enough, I would have used an expletive. So let me keep it simple, land can be surveyed, demarcated and evaluated. You can choose to hire labor and farm it, you can also develop it with a building to house a dwelliSee More

Ozodi Osuji
Ozodi Osuji I can understand sharing houses. If my father had four houses at Lagos it makes sense for his four children to each have one. But the house he built in his village can that be given to the girl now living in Awka? Can a girl become the bearer of the osSee More

Ozodi Osuji
Ozodi Osuji I am just asking questions for clarifications not to antagonize any one.

Chinazor Onianwah
Chinazor Onianwah This is asinine. You are trying to provoke me. Is a girl not human? In every civilized society, that issue has been settled. What if you only have daughters and no male, who inherits your property? Your brother? What if your mother lost her husband butSee More

Fola Bisi Agbe-Orekoya

Chinazor Onianwah
Chinazor Onianwah I hope this applies across Nigeria.

 


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