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.
- How are property inheritance defined in Ankpa local government area.
- What is the position of women with regards to property rights in Ankpa.
- What are the factors responsible for this?
- What are the implications of property inheritance or rights as defined by customary laws for social and economic development of women?
- 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 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 is any object, money or a title that can or has been inherited or is to be inherited.
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.
Customary laws are usually unwritten and are derived from actual practices of a place, society or nation over time.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
Chapter one provides an introduction to the research topic. It also contains the statement of problem, research questions, objectives and significance of study.
The second chapter provides a review of some relevant literature, literacy comments about the case of the problem, review of solutions over the problem and the theoretical approaches essential to the study.
The third chapter is methodology, which contains research design, sampling design, sample size, methods of data collection and methods of data analysis.
The responses and data collected from the field formed chapter four, have data and responses were analyzed using sample percentage and frequencies by categorizing respondents into gender, age, occupation, education and into religious positions. The research objectives was to examine the position of women with regards to property inheritance in Ankpa.
Majority of the respondents agreed that women have no property rights rather they are equivalent to property to be inherited. Other responses were discussed and analyzed.
A total of one hundred people were given questionnaires and the responses reveals that females generally have no property right under the Ankpa tradition and customary laws.
Women have been denied of property inheritance because Ankpa community, tradition and customary laws stated firmly that, women are property to be inherited. The Ankpa community tradition sees it to be traditionally wrong to allow women to inherit their husband’s property because they may leave with the property inherited to their husband’s house and this Ankpa community tradition and customary law found it unfavourable to their traditional practice.
From the hypotheses tested, there is an indication that property inheritance by women has bearing with cultural practices nor values of the society. It is the Ankpa community tradition and customary law that denied the female sex every right of inheritance.
Based on the discussion in this work, it is pertinent to recommend the following measures which are found appropriate to improve the lives of women who before now have almost been neglected and relegated to the background.
- The Ankpa community customary law of succession should be amended and in formulating the new rules of customary law with regards to succession and property inheritance, the interest of the females, widows and wives should seriously be taken into account.
- The females, widows and wives should be made next of kin to their fathers and husbands. This will go a long way in saving them from being stripped off of all the comfort they had before the demise of their fathers and husbands. If the law makes a woman married under the customary law eligible to inherit her husband’s property, the position of the widow will be better. The issue is that, if a woman has spent so many years with her husband and children and later, loses her husband, she is definitely the only one that can really love and care for her children. By virtue o this, if she is made to inherit (monetary or otherwise) and manage the husband’s property, she will be able to solve the problem inherited from the husband and also care adequately for the children and herself. Females are also children born by their father, so should not be deprived of their rights, moreover, there are some females who decide to remain unmarried and those who return home from their husband’s home due to one problem or the other. Due to this denial, they are subjected to difficult conditions as they lack means to adequately care for themselves. They should therefore, be made to inherit and participate in the management of their father’s property to enable them care for themselves and feel their father’s impact or keep him in memory for the rest of their lives.
- The government should strengthen the ministry of women development to become standard body for initiating and propagating special programme of education on gender development issues, such education should include cultural resources and other civilizing norms and values into an integral programme that will promote gender harmony. As a close follow up to the above, government should sponsor courses and researches on gender equation in our tertiary educational institutions and also organize and sponsor workshops and seminars. Some of the respondents also suggested that more women should be included in the making of the laws as to enhance their opportunities and contributions to what really affects them.
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