AN APPRAISAL OF WOMEN’S RIGHT TO PROPERTY UNDER CUSTOMARY LAW: A CASE STUDY OF WOMEN RIGHTS IN SOUTHERN KADUNA STATE

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ABSTRACT

In most tribes in the Southern part of Kaduna State, when a person dies, his property is been distributed among family members and the women are often left with no assets. This is because, traditionally, it is deemed that women are not entitled to right of inheritance of land or landed property, particularly property of their male parents or husbands. The courts did not help matters in the past as these customary practices might be seen to have enjoyed judicial favour in the sense that the courts have made pronouncements in the past to support them. In recent times however, the courts are beginning to reverse those decisions and rule in favour of the women. The recent courts ruling on the right of women to inheritance can now be considered as victory for gender equality in Nigeria. Although, implementation of these judgments are what will be likely to be fraught with difficulties because the inheritance custom voided by the court is deeply rooted and likely to be resisted by men folk in these traditional communities. The study shows that, Over the years. it has been a common perception that most women ‘s right are being suppressed in most customary practices. This includes the right to own properly, especially landed property. On the face of it, it may seem so, but looking critically at most practices, it is    a misconception. The practices in Southern Kaduna State are not  so  different compared  with other customs in Nigeria. A woman can own property of any kind if she has the means to such properly. Any customary practice that denies a woman the right to own an y property is considered to be repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. Therefore, the emphasis is on inheritance. The study also shows that women do not have equal right to  property of their father with men in Southern Kaduna state. It shows also that women in Southern Kaduna do not inherit immoveable properly. It is therefore recommended that court should have a way of strictly implementing judgments and probably meting out sanctions for non-implementation  should not be taken likely. Finally, adequate legislation should be made    to address the land and landed properly aspirations of women in rural communities vis -à-vis  the customary practices obtainable in these communities

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