Supreme Court Upholds Right of Female Child to Inherit Properties in Igboland

Supreme Court Upholds Right of Female Child to Inherit Properties in Igboland




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.

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  1. July 15, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Good new for my wife and I. We salute this judgement and hope for the best. Our people are knowledgible enough to do the right thing They are afraid of our ancestors!

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  2. Emeka Ezekwe
    October 1, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Every child has a right of inheritance of the father's estate. The process of fathering a child is the same for male & female children.

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  3. Martins Ezigwe
    October 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    It remains to implement.

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  4. Chijioke
    October 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    What a sound judgement. I wonder why it's only coming now.

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  5. Bright Onyedinachi
    November 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    this is a great break through in our legal system and good news to our girl children

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  6. Obinna Achibiri-osuagwu
    July 5, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Many years of theft of the rights of the girl child and one day of judgment of restoration forever. The rest is, for the female children to know and defend their rights from now on and with reference to this once for all times judgment. The males from my ethnic group should therefore respect this judgement and accord the consequent beneficiaries their God given right and Supreme Court proclaimed and affirmed. The fathers, uncles and brothers of the females should realize that God created us with equal rights, privileges and opportunities but fellow humans in ancient times created these custom that had discriminated against the females. Thank God their restoration has come and shall remain as long as the earth remains. Amen.

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  7. July 6, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I appreciate this platform

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  8. sampson c jonah
    July 7, 2016 at 8:24 am

    This judgement is long over due nd must be appluded by every sencible person within and outside igboland. The law wasn't only discriminatory nd divisive but unhuman nd irrespnsible nd don't have a standing in mordern igbo society. De judiciary has acted again as last hope of a commonman.cos customary laws like other laws are organic in must be modified to be in agreement wt de changing world .

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  9. Charles ifeanyi
    July 7, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Let's not just jump to issues without knowing the far reaching implications. This lady in question. I'm sure she's not married, and will not because of altitude. Some of these checks is to ensure a woman remains humble to the husband and also reduce family issues. Take a trip to Ghana and see what sharing properties to female child is causing. In Ghana women go as far as bringing their husband and kids to live in her village family house because she owns a room. Because a woman is allowed to share, u see women become intolerant to things she would ordinary overlook because she has plan B to go back to her family house, in many cases u see a woman have four kids from four different men living shamelessly with her kinsmen because she got a room. Everyone in Igbo land knows these culture from day one and so are prepared for it, just like a woman is prepared for motherhood. Life experience women also are not good sharers, the possibility of treat to life to the male gender will surely increase. If we have survive this far with this custom why do we think it will best to change without even looking into the far reaching implications. The Muslims have similar customs. If a man so desires to give proper to he's female child, he can, I have seen it happen in so many instances, such man will usually choose a property he knows is not attached to the family village home to avoid issues. Sometime such is made clear in a WILL . A day will come when an Inlaw will stand face to face with you demanding or issuing instructions in our village family homes. I don't know which court this case was handled, but I also know court respects customary laws. Customary laws are respected world over. Let's not bite more than we can chew. I don't know why we Igbos always use our wisdom in destroying ourselves. Look at the northerners, in their studity they are achieving with a common front. I'm sure most of the guys supporting this move are probably married or wishing to marry to a lady from a wealthy Igbo home, hence they start flexing muscles with their in laws over properties. Lazy men indeed. We can go on an on , but the bottom line is that lets look before we leap. The impact may look small to most supporters, but at the long long it's gonna impact of the entire customs of our igboland.

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    • Victoria
      October 5, 2016 at 12:38 am

      I think I agree with you Charles... although some families do give properties to their daughters,they usually choose that which is less controversial...I totally agree with you

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    • David Enyia
      October 5, 2016 at 7:33 am

      Fully agree with Charles Ifeanyi!

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    • James Stone
      October 5, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Listen, Girls, Boys are human beings. if the girl wants to squander her portion or yearly earnings on man that is her problem.

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    • Gold
      October 6, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Sir, you might as well give your daughter out to marriage before she turns 16, since you're mentioning the northerners . You are comparing Ghana to Igbo land, it seems you don't know that they practice a different culture whereby the the children in a marriage belongs to the Woman's family. Your reason has no basis as women who don't have anything also misbehave. You, saying that getting inheritance isn't right is very wrong. Since you believe so much in culture, you can go and live in the village and tie wrapper instead of clothes. A woman has a right to properties like a man, you seem like an egotistic person. When you have yours don't give that shouldn't mean we should encourage what is wrong.

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    • Toyin
      October 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      I am not even clear your point, but your generalisation is disturbing. Women cannot share, women aren't capable. You will need to grow your mind to accept that some women have strengths in areas you and many other men don't. As to whether or not she will share properly, its up to her and the person who left the property. Point is, a female child is as human and real as a male child. So not allowing a woman access to her family property is to tie her down in what u call humility? chai! God deliver your mind o. So I will have all girl children and someone will tell me another human being will inherit property meant for them because they are ladies? Barbaric mentality. Thank God for such a profound judgement, I pray it is implement without a blood bath.

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  10. Odumodu, Chukwuemeka Frank
    October 5, 2016 at 4:57 am

    This judgement has started tearing families apart in Igboland. There is a reason for the igbo culture of women not inheriting properties from their father. That culture is not intended to dehumanize women, but because they are married out and will inherit from their husbands house. Will the woman carry her fathers land and properties to her husbands house. I believe the Judges that gave this judgement are trying to tell us that our ancestors are fools. Please igbo women better let the sleeping dog lie that to cause disharmony in your fathers house. Better ask questions of what this issue is now generating in igboland. Because of economic hardship in the country, some women now go to their fathers house to start asking for their rights, taking their bothers to court, fighting against each other in other to make ends meet. Better be wise. A stitch in time saves nine.

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  11. Gold
    October 6, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    The Supreme Court did a good job by approving the inheritance.

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  12. dimchild
    October 6, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Rubbish! Not if the woman is married. If not, she should have the right to live on her family's property or perhaps get some inheritance. Igbo culture provides for that without our needing any supreme Court to tell us what to do. Besides there are customary Courts to handle such issues.

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  13. Uyouko Okwot
    October 6, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Kudos to the learned jurists for a great and good judgment.

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  14. Mma
    October 7, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I am glad, so happy that this repugnant law has been done away with and equality and good conscience has been upheld. Thanks to judiciary. I can now have reasons to bring a lot of madness to order. The girl child has rights just like I agree with my brother above that it the same process the male counterpart was born that she was born.

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