Author: Ogechi Jessica MEGBELE

  • Ogechi Jessica MEGBELE


Generally, most Nigerians both literates and illiterates are ignorant of the laws that regulate their private lives until they fall foul of such laws or there is a problem which affects their relatives as a result of the application of such laws. One area of law which Nigerians are ignorant of or for which they have shown apathy is the law of inheritance. Many Nigerians contract their marriages under customary law and so the customary laws of inheritance will be applied to the distribution of their estates after their death if they leave no valid will. Many of the customary laws of inheritance deprive women of their right to inherit the estate of their deceased husbands and fathers. The aim of this research is therefore to awaken the men folk to the unfairness of the customary laws of inheritance which do not entitle widows and their daughters to inherit the estates of their husbands and fathers and the consequential hardships such women suffer. The research considers the following questions: Are women entitled to inherit the property of deceased male relations and relatives and what are the rules of inheritance? Do the customary laws of inheritance treat men and women equally? Are there differences or similarities between customary laws and the Islamic law as they relate to women’s right of inheritance? How can the customary laws of inheritance be reformed to improve women’s rights of inheritance? What laws are in existence to combat this trend and how effective are they? This study’s objective is to examine the status of women vis-à-vis the rights of inheritance under customary and Islamic laws, it will also asses the adequacy or otherwise of the laws relating to women’s rights of inheritance under the customary laws. It is also aimed at sensitizing the legislatures, policy makers and other stakeholders on the need to reform or abolish the discriminatory customary laws of inheritance to give the women right of inheritance. The research will adopt the doctrinal and comparative study of customary laws and Islamic law as they relate to women’s right of inheritance. This study is aimed at the enlightenment of the reader, who will become aware of the discriminatory practices of inheritance against women and its damaging effect on the overall socio-economic development of the country. Under Islamic law, women’s rights are protected because Islamic laws allow women in their capacities as wives, daughters and sisters to inherit the estates of their deceased relatives these rights are clearly stated in the Islamic law sources. The customary laws of inheritance of the Igbo, Benin, and Yoruba people which deprive women the right of inheritance are unjust and discriminatory. They contravene the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and other International Conventions on elimination of discrimination against women of which Nigeria is a signatory. This work contributes to knowledge by exposing these discriminatory laws for what they are, that is contrary to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the extant conventions against discrimination of the Nigeria grund norm. It advocates the consideration of the Islamic customary law of inheritance not ordinarily commended by non adherents of that faith as a better option to other customary laws without prejudice to religion or faith or belief.

Supervisor: A.O. Giwa