Court Upholds Women’s Right To Inherit Family Property

A High Court in Rivers State has delivered Judgment in a Suit instituted by four sisters against their brothers for excluding them in the sharing of their late father’s property.

The four sisters, Chinyere Abel, Perpetual Abel, Bethel Abel and Josephine Abel had dragged their three brothers to court for discriminating against them in the inheritance of their father’s estate.

The claimants asked the court to interpret some sections of the 1999 constitution as amended and the Rivers State Prohibition of the Curtailment of Women’s Right to share in Family Property Law No.2 of 2022.

In a Judgement delivered on Wednesday, Hon. Justice Augusta Kingsley Chukwu directed the defendants to pay the four women a total sum of 72 Million Naira as damages and also render public apology in a National Newspaper and two local tabloids.

The tradition and custom relied upon by the defendants were said to be discriminatory and conflicted with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 42(1) (a) and (2).

This Judgement has voided the age-long tradition and customary law, which forbade a female child from inheriting her father’s estate, a practice which is described as anachronistic, primitive and unconscionable and not fit to exist in the 21st-century.

Recall that it was Hon. Michael Chinda, DSSRS, Member representing Obio/Akpor Constituency II, in the Rivers State House of Assembly, that sponsored the Bill that was signed into law as the Rivers State Prohibition of the Curtailment of Women’s Right to Share in Family Property Law No. 2 of 2022 by Governor Nyesom Wike. By enacting this law, Rivers state became the first state in Nigeria to achieve this feat.

This Law has the potential of triggering a domino effect as many states in the country are toeing the same path by replicating the law in their respective states in order to do away with all discriminatory practices against women.

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