The Supreme Court has upheld the right of a female child to inherit her father’s properties and this decision has divided Igbos as some are in support while some oppose it.
Igbo laws and customs prevent female children from inheriting their father’s estate, specifically land in their father’s ancestral home.
The decision by the supreme court voids this age-long Igbo 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.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour said: “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.”
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 decision has evoked mixed reactions from Igbos.
In his reaction, the Bishop, Diocese on the Niger, Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo described the judgment as a welcome development.
According to Vanguard, he said that female children are not second class citizens and should not be treated like one.
He said: “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.”
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.
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.”
Chief Augustine Emelobe, a renowned Chemical Engineer, said the Supreme Court’s ruling has removed the unjust and unfair treatment on the female children.
He told Vanguard: “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.”
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 defence of the girl-child who before now, has been treated as a second class citizen in our society.
He said: “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.
“We deeply appreciate the Supreme Court for this landmark judgment that has brought back the confidence of the girl-child in our society today.”
UN places Nobel Peace Prize winner, Denis Mukwege on 24 hours protection after he received death threats for demanding justice for crimes committed in Congo
The United Nations has redeployed military troops to guard Nobel Peace Prize winner, Denis Mukwege, after he received death threats for demanding justice for serious crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mukwege, a joint winner of the Nobel peace prize in 2018 alongside Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict – is a gynecologist whose career has spanned more than 20 years.
During his career, he has spoken against several crimes going on in his homeland of Congo.
Denis, who is also a pentecostal pastor, founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been raped by armed rebels.
Mukwege survived a major assassination attempt in October 2012 when armed men entered his home, fired shots and killed his bodyguard.
The assassination attempt came several weeks after a speech at the United Nations where he denounced the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 16-year-long conflict and called for justice for the crimes and killings.
Mukwege, on social media and UN meetings, has often asked for the implementation of recommendations of a 2010 UN investigation which described more than 600 alleged violent incidents occurring in Congo between 1993 and 2003. He has also been vocal against Rwanda’s alleged involvement in the Congo crisis.
Now, the UN wary of another attemot on his life, has put him and his family under 24 hours protection by UN military.
The UN said the recent threats against Dr. Mukwege via social media and in direct phone calls to him and his family “followed his condemnation of the continued killing of civilians in eastern DRC and his renewed calls for accountability for human rights violations and abuses.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also recently warned Mukwege is “at serious risk.”
In a tweet on Thursday September 10, Mukwege said: “We welcome the redeployment of elements from #MONUSCO to #Panzi this morning to ensure the safety of our patients and staff,”
“Thank you to the #UN for ensuring our protection.”
Nigeria will save over N1trn annually from removal of fuel subsidy – Sylva
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva on Thursday September 10 said the Federal Government will be saving over N1trillion annually with the removal of subsidy from Premium Motor Spirit.
Sylva told newsmen that the money will be used to fund other critical aspects of the economy.
The Minister who maintained that the sustenance of the fuel subsidy regime was no longer tenable as it had always provided the leeway for rich and unscrupulous Nigerians to steal and enrich themselves at the expense of the masses, also averred that with the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil sector, it would be easier to woo investors required to revitalise the nation’s comatose refineries soon.
“What is deregulation going to do? It is going to free up a lot more money. At least from the very beginning, it will save us up to a trillion and more every year. Already, we have taken up the budgetary provision for subsidy which is about N500 billion in the budget.
“Also, we have taken off the excess forex price that special rate that was given to NNPC which also came at a cost. So, all the money that we used to defend the naira at that time to subsidise the dollar will now be freed up for development. And, I believe that going forward, we will begin to see a lot more development, a lot more money available to the government that will be put into critical infrastructure instead of being burnt in our cars.
“And, let us look at subsidy critically. Who are the beneficiaries of subsidy? When a few years ago you have this subsidy scam all over the place all the monies that were taken by all the subsidy thieves and so on, how many poor people were among those people? Subsidy only provides opportunity for rich and unscrupulous Nigerians to steal and enrich themselves at our expense, at your expense.
“So, deregulation is actually a policy direction that is good for the common Nigerian. It is going to produce a lot of opportunities. Before now, you would asked: Why has the refining sector not developed? It is because no refinery can operate commercially in Nigeria with subsidy.
“If you have a refinery and you refine your product and you are expected to sell it at a subsidised rate, how is the refinery going to make profit and survive? So, nobody wanted to invest in refineries. And that is one of the reasons why our refineries became unsustainable as well because they were refining and selling at a loss. So, every time they came back to government to ask for money.
“Anytime any part got bad they had to come back because they were not operating commercially. So, they don’t have money to replace those parts. That was why we were refining and selling at a loss. With deregulation, it means that refineries can operate commercially.
“And then you can see a lot more investment in that sector and it is going to create a lot of opportunities and jobs for our people. With deregulation, it also means that marketers can import product by themselves and sell at market rates to Nigerians. It is going to create a lot more activities and opportunities.
“So, deregulation is going to really open up. You know what happened in the banking sector with deregulation. We had a few banks but today I cannot count the banks because that sector was deregulated. You see what deregulation did for the airline sector; we had only Nigeria Airways those days.
‘When the sector was deregulated you see that the sector has become a major employer of Nigerians. Deregulation has always been good for sectors. Look at the deregulation of the telecom sector, look at the revolution that it has created for Nigeria and for Nigerians.
“So, why are we shying away from deregulating this sector that is going to provide a lot of opportunities if we do deregulate because we believe that once we deregulate there would be a lot of investment coming into Nigeria to build refineries because at that point it will become commercially viable for them to build refineries because all these issues we are talking about will not be there.
“Even the NNPC can easily find the funds to even fix their refineries because it will then be commercially viable because you are going to operate refineries commercially. Why are we running away from this thing? It is people who are political about it. They want to politicise everything that are saying all kinds of things about the policy direction that has been taken especially at this time.”
Eight escapes death as huge tree falls on commercial bus in Calabar
Eight passengers and a driver escaped death by the whiskers on Tuesday September 8, after a huge tree branch broke off from its trunk and fell on a vehicle in Calabar, the Cross River State capita.
The incident which occurred at the Beebosco junction involved a mini bus that was conveying seven passengers along the Murtala Mohammed Highway.
According to reports from the scene, the driver, Blessing Eyo Nsa is said to have stopped to drop a passenger when the unfortunate incident happened. No passenger is said to have sustained any physical injury while the driver lamented over his damaged vehicle.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Mfon Bassey Mfon, who arrived the scene, confirmed it was “an accident.”
The incident hindered free flow of vehicles but men of Nigeria Police Force arrived on time to prevent traffic jam.