WOMEN AND PROPERTY INHERITANCE IN NIGERIA
Inheritance rights are one of the central problems that cause conflict among families prevalent to the extent that a house holder (father) has to write his will before he dies. The common practice is that, women have no say in the property sharing as a member of the family.The objective of this study is to examine the definition of property rights in Ankpa community. To determine the positions of women with regards to property inheritance in Ankpa community. To ascertain the extent to which property as defined by Igala customary laws has affected the socio-economic development of women, and to recommend ways of tackling the issue. Data was collected from one source which is the primary through the use of questionnaire: sample for this research was one hundred (100) people, which was gotten through the simple random sampling technique.The findings revealed that females generally under the Igala traditions are properties themselves to be inherited by any man. Recommendations such as the amendment of the Igala customary law in relation to cultural approach to accommodate women’s property inheritance was made. There should also be an attempt on the part of the government to promote gender equality through legislature and other enlightenment programmes.
1.1. Background to the Study
Property inheritance including the rights of women to property, receives very little degree of attention in different parts of the world. The girl – child in most traditions of the world according to Ogbuagu in his reviews of gender studies in Nigeria, (2002). Is made to internalize the notion that, the girl is subordinate to male authority and subsequently cannot and should not claim rights with the boy-child. Ogbuagu, further states that, the girl-child is taught to be a good wife and mother in future. In addition the girl child is also perceived and actually made to believe that, she is a tool, an object or a possession to be owned and used to meet the male desires. These discrepancies between the old rules and facts are greater where women are concerned and its most harmful to their interest.
Women’s legal rights to property according to Kenneth (2000) are examined on the background of the law of succession, inheritance and the family its paramount, to point out that no particular attentions has been paid to women in the making of any law in Nigeria (2002). According to her, the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1977, promulgated into law by the military force before they handed over power on the 29th of May 1999 to civilian administration has been generating controversies since its inception. The chief argument against the constitution as argued by Comfort is the imposition of these laws on the Nigerian people by the military. That the constitution does not pass the test of legitimacy and acceptability for it is not a process led participatory and open constitution. She further argues that, the way and manner in which the 1999 constitution. She further argues that, the way and manner in which the 1999 constitution was drafted made it possible especially for women to have any impact whatsoever in it.
This customary law system where the women and her children are denied property and financial provision from the property of her husband’s and father’s upon dissolution of marriage either by divorce or death, exposes them to exploitation and abuse, customary norms are no longer always appropriate and their observation may simply serve to entrap women and children (females) in inferior position.
It is upon this background that the researcher seeks to find out the extent to which women in Kogi state particularly in Ankpa local government area have rights to property inheritance.