An Imo State High Court sitting in Aboh Mbaise has given further judicial blessing to female inheritance of deceased father’s estate.
In a judgment recently delivered by Justice Ijeoma Agugua, the court declared that Mrs. Regina Ihemadu (Nee Nwimo), who is the only surviving child of her late father, Imo Ebiringa, of Amaokpu Umuopara Umuelagwa Onicha, Ezinihitte-Mbaise local government of Imo State, is entitled by law to exclusively inherit the estate of her late father.
In Suit No. HAM/13/2017 filed by Emperor N. Iwuala, counsel, on behalf of the plaintiff, the court also, restrained the woman’s uncles, other relations and their agents from trespassing into the estate, awarding a N7 million damages for unlawful trespass.
It could be recalled that Mrs. Ihemadu who is now married in Umuosisi Obizi Community in the same Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area brought this suit in the year 2017 against her uncle, one Sunday Uwazie, and against members of Ebiringa family of Amaokpu Umuopara Umuelagwa Onitcha of the local government area.
The gist of the story is that some years ago, the plaintiff’s only male brother, Christian Nwimo, died without a survivor leaving only the plaintiff as the only surviving child of their father.
Subsequently, the defendants started selling off some parts of the plaintiff’s father’s estate without the consent of the plaintiff.
Reacting to the judgment, Barr. Iwuala described it as very apt and flows from the constitutional right against discrimination based on sex. He stated that the judgment is only a restatement of the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court in the celebrated Ukeje case.
With this, it is now clear that the age-long custom of disinheriting female children (both married and unmarried) from sharing in their father’s property and estate is now not only null and void, but unconstitutional.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had in a landmark judgment it delivered on Friday, June 1, 2016, altered the domination, subjugation, discrimination and humiliation suffered by women in Igboland from time immemorial. In the judgment, the apex court voided the Igbo law and custom, which forbade daughters from inheriting their late fathers’ estate. The Court declared that the tradition was discriminatory and conflicted with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
The court held that the practice conflicted with Sections 42(1)(a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the fundamental freedom from discrimination granted every Nigerian. The judgment was on appeal marked SC.22/2014 filed by Mrs. Lois Chituru Ukeje (the wife of the late Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje) and their son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje, against Mrs. Gladys Ada Ukeje, the deceased’s daughter.