A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ALIENATION OF FAMILY PROPERTY IN NORTHERN NIGERIA AND NORTHERN CAMEROON

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A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ALIENATION OF FAMILY PROPERTY IN NORTHERN NIGERIA AND NORTHERN CAMEROON

Abstract:

The institution of family property is a popular form of land-holding under customary laws of Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon. In the past, land was in abundance but population was scanty and there was no law governing the use of land as well. Land as a commodity was therefore, free for all and sundry. Alienation of land by sale, as well as demarcation of boundaries and the like were not known. The most popular and common form of the early land holding in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon seemed to have been in the form of communal ownership and the management were vested in the Emirs, the Lamidoes the Sultans and the Chiefs. The main uses to which land was put, were buildings, farming, hunting, fishing and grazing, especially, with respect to Nomadic Fulanis and the Fulbes of Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon respectively. Human population and economic activities were undertaken at the level of subsistence, and therefore communal land holding would seem to have suited the people. However, with rapid growth in population, as well as allotment of communal land to families and the need for more security in the ownership of land, there was gradual transformation of communal land into family holding. This work is aimed at examining on a comparative basis the alienation of family property (especially land) in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon, which from time immemorial has been a subject of conflicts and the eventual disintegration of family institutions. Although the rules relating the alienation of family property seem to have been fairly settled, today the research shall seek to identify some of the problems of alienation of family ix property not yet identified by the few available works and other problems which have recently cropped up due to increase in industrialization and commercialization, with a view to suggesting lasting solutions. This thesis also aims at bringing something together in a documentary form, which was not in existence before. That is, the Alienation of Family Property in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon. It is also the objective of the work to examine how the rules of alienation of family property have developed over the years and the effect that foreign cultures have had on the Laws of family land holding. The work starts with an introductory chapter which discusses the objectives of the thesis, its scope, the method by which the research shall be conducted and the organizational layout of the thesis. Chapter two discusses the evolution of property law in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon. In this chapter property has been defined. The customary property law of Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon is also discussed. And under it, land tenure under non-Muslim Law, as well as land tenure under Islamic Law is examined. Furthermore, the statutory property laws of Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon are discussed also. Chapter three examines the nature of family property in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon. And under it, the definition of family, extended family, family property, the modes of acquisition of family property, the management of family property and finally, the responsibilities of the family head are also discussed. Chapter four deals with forms of alienation generally. Here, alienation itself is x defined and the various manner with which property is alienated in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon discussed as well. Chapter five examines the methods of alienation of family property in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon. In this chapter the procedure for alienation is considered, under which, you have the consensus or the general method, and alienation by order of the court. Defective alienation, as well as the difference between void and voidable alienation are equally considered in this chapter. Finally, Chapter six contains the summary and recommendations for reforms in family land tenure in Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon.

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