Customary Law In Nigeria

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6.0. WOMEN INHERITANCE RIGHTS UNDER NIGERIAN CUSTOMARY LAWS The traditional African society to which Nigeria belongs has perhaps been the major problem facing the female gender over the years. The cultural practices of the various constituent tribes, societal norms, illiteracy, poverty, religious beliefs, have all fueled the continuing deprivation and discrimination women directly or as in modern times, indirectly suffered in the hands of their male counter parts and the society as a whole. Customary inheritance practices that deny women their right to inherit land and other property have devastating repercussions directly on the lives of women and female children. The most significant of which is the loss of rights to shared property, leading…show more content…
Customary laws are unwritten and passed orally from one generation to the next and these laws varies greatly from area to area, and even from tribe to tribe. Generally, inheritance is based on the principle of primogeniture that is the eldest surviving son inherits all the deceased’s property. Under customary law, a married woman is not regarded as a permanent member of her husband’s family. Once a woman leaves her natal family to be married, she no longer regarded as a member of that family either. In the Igbo culture of Eastern Nigeria, due to discrimination against widows in inheritance, women have a desperate need to produce sons so that through them they will be able to access land and have a roof over their heads. A widow herself is considered part of the property, and is only allowed to remain on the property with the permission of the eldest son and heir. She has no right to inherit any part of the estate. Daughters have virtually no rights to inherit their father’s moveable and immoveable…show more content…
On a lighter note I can posit that the tide is changing in law for women, looking at the Federal High Court decisions that have been discussed. Whether same thing is obtainable in practice is a matter for future discussion. Having said that, we cannot ignore the fact that the struggle for gender equality in Nigeria is still at its very infancy and more still needs to be done to fill out that gap. There are still tons of issues that need to be resolved in this dear country of ours as regards women. We need national laws to eliminate violence and discrimination against women, foster gender equality, etc. A review of all gender discriminatory laws in Nigeria should be conducted starting with the 1999 Nigerian Constitution to demonstrate its total commitment to eradicate gender disparity. Expunging all despicable practices that impede the rights of women in Nigeria should be taken seriously. The Nigerian government should collaborate with traditional rulers and other stakeholders in Nigeria to ensure that all harmful cultural practices that target women should be eradicated. Cultural practices ceases to be culture once it proves to be harmful and repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. Laws should be used as an instrument of social change and social justice, and not an

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