LEGALITY OF ANY CULTURE THAT DISINHERITS A DAUGHTER FROM THE ESTATE OF THE FATHER OR A WIFE FROM THE ESTATE OF HER HUSBAND

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CASE TITLE: MARK v. IRONU & ORS (2019) LPELR-47026(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 15TH MARCH, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATE

LEAD JUDGMENT: ITA GEORGE MBABA, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on the administration of estate under customary law.

FACTS

The appeal is against the Judgment of the Abia State High Court, delivered by Justice C.C. Jones Udeogu.

The Appellant’s Case was that he was the sole surviving grandson of the grandfather, Eboh. The 1st to 4th Claimants/respondents, being the sons of 5th Claimant/respondent, female child of Ironu, were illegitimate children of 5th Claimant and were, by native law and custom of Umueze Ibeku, incapable of inheriting Ironu’s (his uncle) lands.

At the trial Court, the Respondents had sought the following reliefs:
a) A declaration that the claimants are, according to the native law and custom of Umueze Alala Emede Autonomous Community, Ibeku Umuahia North L.G.A. of Abia State, entitled to succeed to and inherit the estate of Ironu Eboh;
b) A declaration that the claimants are entitled to the grant of statutory right of occupancy to the pieces or parcels of land which formed the estate of Ironu Eboh, which said estate include among others the following pieces or portions of lands, to wit:
​(1) Ala Mmiri, (2) Iyi Achi, (3) Ihu Oku, (4) Oru Mkpuru, (5) Ukwu Udara (6) Ndagbite (7) Isi Ikwu, (8) Uhu Ochie and (9) Ude Ndagbite, which the claimants inherited from Ironu Eboh, according to the custom and tradition of Umueze Alala, Emede, Autonomous Community, Ibeku Umuahia North L.G.A of Abia State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court, with an annual value of N100.00 (One Hundred Naira) each.

(c) Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) general damages for trespass

(d) Perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant, himself, his heirs, agents, assigns or privies from further acts of trespass or in any other way interfering with the rights of the Claimants over the said land.

The Defendant/Appellant filed a counter-claim. After hearing the case and considering the addresses of Counsel and evidence adduced before it, the trial Court granted some reliefs sought by the respondents and dismissed the counter-claim of the appellant. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Respondents distilled two issues for the determination of the Appeal, namely:
1) Whether the learned trial Judge, considering the evidence before him, was right to hold that the estate of late Eboh was shared by the children at his death.
2) Whether from the totality of the evidence adduced by the Appellant at the Court below, the Appellant was entitled to the grant of the reliefs in his counterclaim.

DECISION/HELD

In conclusion, the Court of Appeal resolved the two issues against the Appellant and dismissed the appeal.

RATIOS:

  • ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATE- INHERITANCE OF INTESTATE ESTATE: Whether the circumstances of the birth of an individual is a ground to discriminate against him in sharing and inheritance of an estate
  • ARBITRATION AND CONCILIATION- CUSTOMARY ARBITRATION: Conditions precedent to bindingness of a customary arbitration
  • CUSTOMARY LAW- IGBO NATIVE LAW AND CUSTOM: Legality of any culture that disinherits a daughter from the estate of the father or a wife from the estate of her husband

 

Court of AppealLawPavilion Prime

lawpavilion • April 10, 2019


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