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.
1.2. STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
Traditional beliefs and practices of especially the Ankpa local government area as conditioned by the customary laws have become such serious obstacles militating against the development of women in this area.
A close look at the Ankpa women generally either single, married or divorce reveals that, they have no rights to property when compared to their male counterparts.
A female heir is as good as a property to be inherited and thus, does not argue over her father’s properties with her brothers, a married woman works and owns everything to the husband, she claims no right in the husband’s house. A widow return empty to her parents especially, if she has no male offsprings. These are serious problems militating against women social, economical, political and psychological development and can be conveniently attributed to the sub-servient positions, women tend to accept in the society. This is because a person who is disenfranchised or lacks the right to property to enhance his or her status generally, be it social, political, economical,, educational and so on, remains dependent and often takes the back seat.
These types of situation in which the Igala women in Ankpa local government area face impedes their development processes and greatly affects their quota of contribution to the overall development of the society.
1.3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research has set to investigate into the above stated problems faced by property inheritance and the position of women in Ankpa local government area as regards property rights.
What defined these rules, its implication on women and the way out, to achieve this, the following questions will guide the research.
i. How are property inheritance defined in Ankpa local government area.
ii. What is the position of women with regards to property rights in Ankpa.
iii. What are the factors responsible for this?
iv. What are the implications of property inheritance or rights as defined by customary laws for social and economic development of women?
v. What measures are required to maintain women in the development process of Ankpa local government area?
1.4. OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The aims of this study are to find out how property inheritance has been shared and why property inheritance has been shared and why women under the Ankpa tradition and customary laws have no rights to property. How these affect women generally and proffer probable suggestion on the way forward.
The following will be the specific objectives of this work.
To examine the definition of property inheritance in Ankpa local government area.
To determine the position of women with regards to property inheritance or rights in Ankpa
To determine the factors responsible for this
To ascertain how property rights as defined by Igala customary law has affected the socio-economic development of women.
To proffer suggestions on how women could be mainstream in development processes.
1.5. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research is aimed at understanding property inheritance as been defined by the igala customary laws in Ankpa local government area.
The research also aimed at determining the position of women with regards to property inheritance in Ankpa. And to provide solutions to the problems of women with regards to inheritance, right and contribution to national development.
1.6. DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
The concepts to the defined in this research include:
· Customary laws
Property: Property is anything, objects or rights, which can be owned. It can be said, also to be something of value that is owned, for instance Land.
Inheritance: Inheritance is any object, money or a title that can or has been inherited or is to be inherited.
Rights: rights is said to be entitlements to certain kinds of treatment based on one’s status. Right can also be a justified claim or entitlement or the freedom to do something.