Supreme Court’s decision on female inheritance divides Igbo
…Female children not second class — Bishop Nwokolo
[i]…Ruling cannot abolish the tradition and custom of Igbos — Osisi Itodo
…Judgment good but communities still have custom and tradition — Igwe Okolo
…Court judgment bastardizes culture and tradition of Igboland — Ugwu
…I agree with the judgment completely — Ezenagu, PG, NUF
…Ends age-long man’s inhumanity to man — Emelobe
…Ruling against Igbo tradition – Abia monarch[/i
ENUGU—THE Supreme Court in a landmark decision, has upheld the right of a female child to inherit properties of her father. By this decision, the apex court has voided the Igbo age-long law and custom which forbid a female child from inheriting her late father’s estate.
The Supreme Court voided this tradition and custom on the grounds that it is discriminatory and conflicts with the provision of the constitution.
The Supreme Court held that the practice conflicted with section 42(1)(a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
The land mark 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 Ms. Gladys Ada Ukeje (the deceased’s daughter).
“Gladys 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 father’s estate.
The trial court found that she was a daughter to the deceased and that she was qualified to benefit from the estate of their father who died intestate in Lagos in 1981.
The Court of Appeal, Lagos to which Mrs. Lois Ukeje and Enyinnaya Ukeje appealed, upheld the decision of the trial court, prompting them to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal, Lagos was right to have voided the Igbo 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 late 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 are to bear their own costs,” Justice Rhodes-Vivour said.
Justices Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, Clara 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.
The judgment has evoked mixed reactions from Ndigbo, particularly traditional rulers who are the custodian of the tradition and culture, as well as church leaders.
It is a welcome development – Bishop Nwokolo
In his reaction, the Bishop, Diocese on the Niger, Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo described the judgment as a welcome development. He said that female children are not second class citizens and should not be treated like one.
“Female children have and should be accorded the same rights given to their male counterparts and therefore should not be discriminated against.
“This is not the first time the Supreme Court has given this judgment. Some years ago, the Supreme Court gave similar judgment but we are happy and we thank the Supreme Court for upholding the same judgment and there is no going back in females inheriting their fathers’ property.
“Families should put the judgment in practice and female children should stand up and claim their right. It is not only Supreme Court judgment but God given right and they should take that right”.
Prof. Uzodinma Nwala-led Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, also welcomed the decision, saying, “in today’s world, daughters have proved their mettle in bringing sustainability, honour and dignity to their families. Some of them have played the role of bread-winners for their father’s houses.
“So, it would have amounted to great injustice to continue to deny them the right of inheritance. They should be entitled to a fair share of their family wealth whether married or single.”
Supreme Court ruling cannot abolish the tradition of Igbos – Igwe Itodo
However, a prominent monarch in Nsukka and the grand patron of Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, and the traditional ruler of Aji autonomous community in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Simeon Osisi Itodo, said the Supreme Court ruling cannot abolish the tradition and custom of the Igbos.
Itodo said that any attempt to implement such law in Igboland would provoke chaos and skirmishes among various communities.
He argued that the custom is unique to the people of South-East Nigeria and should not be touched.
“There are traditions which had existed before the law. Before the emergence of law courts, Igbos have their tradition and custom which cannot be wiped out because of Supreme Court ruling.
“There are so many things we have in common which cannot be stopped because of court verdict.
“We are not against that ruling but we would not abolish our customs and traditions which all of us met. You can imagine a married woman coming back to her father to share his property with the sons.
“We would not allow it because it would breed chaos and troubles in our communities. If there are customs that allow such inheritance, let the people continue the practice but it won’t work in Igboland.
“In India, women pay the dowry but the reverse is the case here. We would not abolish our unique customs because of court ruling,” the monarch said.
Custom unfair to Igbo women – Igwe Nnamani
But another prominent monarch and the traditional ruler of Likke Iheaka autonomous community in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Christopher Nnamani disagreed with Itodo.
Nnamani said the custom is unfair to the Igbo women and called on the states’ Houses of Assembly in the South-East to make laws that would domesticate the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter.
He said that some fathers in their wisdom share their properties to their children while alive irrespective of their sexes, saying that the custom reduced the female children to slavish status in Igboland.
“This unfair treatment of female children does not happen in Northern or Western parts of Nigeria. This explains why females with affluence lord it over their male counterparts in Igboland when they remember the injustice they have suffered in the past.
“If a male becomes the eldest man in his community, he would be entitled to some privileges, which may come in form of royalties but the reverse is the case for the women in Igboland. The challenge is how to implement it now because it is an old tradition in South-East Nigeria.”
For the chairman, Enugu State Association of Town Union Presidents, Chief Paully Eze, “any custom which shows to be manifestly unlawful should be expunged.” Eze, a lawyer, said it is wrong to deny any child inheritance because of sex consideration.
“Any custom that did not meet the test of time, that is, when it is manifestly unlawful should be expunged. I stand strongly with that pronouncement. Nsukka High Court has earlier pronounced it before it was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
“It is very much unfair to deny females right of inheritance of their fathers’ properties. Because it is a new law, it would definitely bring problems in terms of implementation but with time, we would get accustomed to it. It is already causing ripples in my community,” he said.
Chief Augustine Uzochukwu from Ihiala Council Area of Anambra State hailed the judgment just as Igwe Patrick Okolo of Nkpunano community, Nsukka, Enugu State insisted that the Supreme Court judgment must be obeyed by every community in Igboland.
Okolo, however, posited that Nri ancient community stands as the best community to interpret the judgment, “though we concur with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Supreme Court judgment should be upheld in principle in some quarters of Igboland while traditional unwritten constituency holds supreme in most quarters of Igboland.”
Judgment completely right – Ezenagu, PG, NUF
In his reaction, the President- General of Ndigbo United Forum, NUF, Chief Godson Ezenagu, commended the decision of the Supreme Court, saying that granting females access to their fathers’ property is natural, adding that it would give them a sense of belonging in the society.
“According to Igbo tradition, the female child inheritance does not happen and now that the Supreme Court has ruled that they are entitled to that, by natural justice and conscience, I agree with them completely.
“Granting them access to their biological father’s properties is a natural thing. Sometimes, customs handed over from generation to generation can be awkward and can be discontinued.
“For denying them that, they are put in serious jeopardy; they are molested at home and also in their marital home. Their partaking in sharing of property will make them more comfortable than the situation in which they found themselves. That is what is supposed to happen naturally.
“All animals are equal and at the same time, all children are equal. We shouldn’t because of custom deny the female child her natural right.
“So, it is a welcome development and I am sure all people of good faith will support it and advocate that even the ones that have not been done or already done could be revisited. Involving them is the best thing ever, even though they may not get equal share but it will give them some leverage”, Ezenagu said and wished that the same court abolish the practice of a married woman bearing her father’s name in her husband’s home.
“That is the advantage and the disadvantage of the ruling will be that most women may not like to go into marriage because their father is rich and has a lot of property to benefit.
“Whether your husband is rich or poor, you will leave your own family to your husband’s family. Once you are married, you change your family name to your husband’s name. Some women are now attaching their family name to their husband’s name. I think it is wrong.
“I believe the same law that abolished Igbo customs denying female child rights of inheritance will also abolish it. Most educated women are doing it but it is wrong”, he said.
Also reacting to the court decision, Chief Augustine Emelobe, a renowned Chemical Engineer, said that it has removed the unjust and unfair treatment on the female children.
“I support the verdict of the Supreme Court. Children are children irrespective of whether they are male or female. I have always had the notion that it is unjust and unfair on the part of the female children.
“I applaud the Supreme Court as the last hope of the common man in this age-long man’s inhumanity to man.”
“I totally agree with the Supreme Court that the Igbo law and custom, which forbids female children from inheriting their late father’s estate on the grounds that it is discriminatory and conflicts with the provision of the constitution.”
For the President-General of the Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, Goodluck Egwu Ibem, the Supreme Court decision is a welcome development. According to him, it is a wonderful defense of the girl-child who before now, has been treated as a second class citizen in our society.
“She is seen as the property of her husband who loses all forms of rights once she gets married.
“A man who has only female children in our society loses his rights to certain privileges like being a traditional ruler or his inheritance in his own father’s compound. The situation before now has been very ugly,” he lamented.
“We deeply appreciate the Supreme Court for this landmark judgment that has brought back the confidence of the girl-child in our society today. Communities that
“We are not in the South South and South-West tradition or the Northern part of Nigeria. But in South east it is not the practice that the female child inherit the Father’s property.
“Rather the father can give the female child one or two rooms in case she comes with the husband and the children.
“May be after the ceremony for which they came home they will go back. So, the female child inheriting the father’s properties will be a difficult thing to practice as part of our tradition in Igbo land.
“Just imagine, after the father of the House dies and they say that the most senior of his children who is a female child should inherit the family house of the father in the village.
“What you see we are doing is the steps laid for us by our forefathers. Nobody will built a house in the village and say that his female child will come and stay there.
“By the time, they want to implement this law in Igbo land it will cost a very big problem it will even get to a appoint of those children trying to eliminate themselves if not managed very well.”
“Yes, i can do that to assist my daughter and her husband and children so that they can live a better life if that is what they need to succeed.”
Kogi Government Writes US Over Electoral Fraud Allegation
16 September 2020
The Ambassador Of The United States of America
Embassy of The United States of America
1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central Business District
RE: VISA RESTRICTIONS ON INDIVIDUALS AND INCLUSION OF THE 2019 KOGI STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN US STATE DEPARTMENT LIST OF ALLEGEDLY COMPROMISED ELECTIONS – A LETTER OF PROTEST
1. I have been so directed by His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and I hereby make and forward this Letter of Protest to you in respect of the matters contained in it.
2. The Kogi State Government became aware of a United States Government list of individuals who received US visa restrictions for alleged electoral malpractices via a Press Statement to that effect posted on your Embassy website at https:///32vD96M. In your own words, the still unnamed individuals are cited as guilty of ‘acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.’ They are also alleged to ‘have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.’
3. You also noted in the Statement that the sanctions are derived from unspecified misconducts by the said individuals which extend from the February/March 2019 General Elections in Nigeria through the off-cycle November 2019 gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to the as yet unheld governorship contests in Edo and Ondo States. Please note that for the purposes of this protest letter we are only interested in the citations to the extent that they are referable to Kogi State and her citizens.
4. For the most part, we concede that elections in Nigeria are complex affairs which will continue to require improvements for the foreseeable future. The 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Election was also not without its challenges. However, it is also crystal clear from critical and composite analyses of the records (official, media, observers, etc) of the November 16, 2020 polls that regrettable incidents were limited to a few polling units, while the overwhelmingly larger portions of the ballot were free, fair and credible.
5. Further, and in line with Nigerian law, the few political parties and individuals who alleged widespread electoral malpractices had free rein to contest the outcome in court. They vigorously litigated their claims over a grueling 9-month period, through a 3-step hierarchy of courts, to the inescapable conclusion at the Supreme Court of Nigeria that the said elections satisfactorily complied with the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.
6. Our concern right now is not the prerogative of the United States of America to impose entry restrictions on anyone, for any or no reason at all, which prerogative remains unfettered, but the room for atrocious misinformation which the timing of your Press Statement and the mention of the Kogi elections therein has created in our state.
7. For the February and March 2019 General elections, your advisory came out in July 2019, long before the Supreme Court delivered her judgments in the petitions against those elections, including challenges to President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection. The presumption is that in spite of your intervention, the Supreme Court still discovered no merit in the petitions and dismissed them accordingly.
8. In our case, ie, Kogi State, you made the tactical decision to release the update shortly after the Supreme Court delivered judgments in the 4 petitions which made it before her. Amongst a plethora of well-reasoned pronouncements the Apex Court dismissed the said petitions for failing to prove their allegations and for having no ‘scintilla of merit’. The inference from your timing is that the judgment is somehow tainted and did not meet the justice of the case, thereby casting aspersions, not only on the Nigerian Judiciary, but on the second term mandate freely bestowed on His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello by the good people of Kogi State.
9. We find this unacceptable, and we protest your presumption. The least you could have done, if indeed this is about democracy and human rights as claimed, is create room, no matter how slim, for fair hearing. As it is now, partisan speculation as to who is indicted, who is not and for what, has become cudgels, furiously swung in the media space by all comers. Your action has therefore added abundant grist to the rumour mills and electrified the merchants of fake news.
10. For instance, a United States based blog, saharareporters.com, has made inflammatory publications in which they named His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, among others, as a definite recipient of your visa restriction. Though you have named no names, accuracy is of no moment to them, just base political expediency, and they quote unnamed US State Department sources to give credibility to what is otherwise unproven.
11. Also, other players in the Kogi political space, including candidates and officials of opposition political parties which lost the elections and could not prove their allegations in court as aforesaid have now latched onto this action, holding media conferences and making press releases, claiming that the United States has justified their wild allegations and conspiracy theories where the courts and the administrative quarters failed. This is utterly regrettable.
12. Let it be noted that we are not challenging your visa bans in any way, whoever they may affect and for how long, but we do register the strongest protest possible as a State to the collateral and unwarranted interference in our political and social processes which it represents. You have reignited already dying embers of discord around the February/March General Elections and the November 16 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections of 2019. This has invariably made our usual post-election duty of reconciliation with fair-minded political opponents all the more harder. We are hurt and disappointed.
13. Digressing a little beyond Kogi State to our contiguous states of Edo and Ondo, we wish to advice generally that by so preemptively interfering in their elections, both of which are yet to hold, events on ground since your publication indicate that the United States has foisted on our political process, not the expected caution or good behaviour by politicians which may have been your intent, but further calcification of hardened attitudes, more violent polemics, and increased sabre-rattling.
14. Even now every camp is trying to spin your action as evidence of US support for themselves and hostility to their opponents. Everyone involved in those elections is now stoked with an aura of invincibility and hellbent on displaying all manners of outrageousness on election day to prove their opponents the aggressors. After all, with sanctions looming over everyone like the Sword of Damocles, every stakeholder, including the security agencies are on tenterhooks and less likely to be lively. We fear you may have done our democracy more harm than good with this action, and we consider it most unfortunate indeed.
15. In conclusion, we believe that if the United States of America, despite her commanding heights and much longer experience as the acclaimed Bastion of Democracy in the world, is still locked in a fight to defend the integrity of her own electoral processes to this very day, then she ought to accord greater empathy, more civility and much less disruption, to nascent democracies.
16. Please be assured of our high regards always.
MRS FOLASHADE ARIKE AYOADE, Ph.D
Secretary to the Government of Kogi State
There’ s Need To Take Another Look At Amended NBC Code – Osinbajo
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government needs to revisit the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) amendment of the broadcasting code.
Osinbajo said this on Friday during a session with Nick Clegg, vice-president of Facebook’s policy and communication.
The code, which has stirred a lot of controversy, seeks to regulate content exclusivity, enforce content sharing and empower the NBC to determine prices at which content is sold to sub-licensees by rights holders.
Also, the fine for hate speech has been increased from N500,000 to N5 million.
Osinbajo said there is need to take a second look at the code so as not to “stifle the work of hardworking, creative people”.
“The NBC code is one where the is now activity around trying to take a second look at it. Those who say that it is pro-competition, it is one I think we should take a second look at,” Osinbajo said.
“Basically, it says if you have a licenced product for TV, you’re expected to share it with other platforms. It’s one which I understand the argument of those who say this is a violation of copyright and intellectual property which is a very strong point and this is why I think we have to take a second look at it and see whether there are ways of moderating it to be more acceptable so as not stifle the work of very very hardworking, creative people.”
Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, chairman of the NBC board, had accused Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, of amended the country’s broadcasting code “unilaterally” without involving relevant stakeholders.
Visa Ban : Don ’t Disrespect Nigeria , FG Tells US , UK
The Federal Government has frowned on the statements issued by the United States and the United Kingdom on the governorship elections holding in Edo State on Saturday (today) and Ondo State on October 10.
It also expressed concern over the visa restrictions imposed by the US on unnamed politicians for alleged involvement in electoral violence during the Kogi and Bayelsa states governorship polls.
Both US and the UK had vowed sanctions on anyone who perpetrated violence during the Edo and Ondo elections, including imposing visa restrictions and blocking them from accessing their assets and prosecuting them under international law.
But reacting to the comments of its western allies on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement stated that it had taken note of their concerns regarding the elections in Edo and Ondo.
The government explained that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has continually urged all parties and contestants to peacefully conduct themselves before, during, and after the elections.
The statement signed by the MFA spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye, added that Buhari also supported patriotic non-governmental initiatives such as the Abdusalami Abubakar Peace Committee.
Furthermore, it explained that there were ample provisions in the nation’s laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
However, it admonished the UK and US to cooperate with the relevant agencies by providing them concrete evidence of observed misconduct “to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.”
The statement added, “It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.”
The FG further highlighted that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.
“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial, and security support to the electoral process.
“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the European Union, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and US to cooperate with our relevant agencies by providing them whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course,” the government stated.
Finally, the government expressed solidarity with the American government and people as regards their forthcoming election “which we hope will be free from interference and violence.”
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