The Supreme Court recently delivered a landmark judgment that will alter 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 forbids daughters from inheriting their late fathers’ estate. The Court declared that the tradition is discriminatory and conflicts 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 Ukeji) and their son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje, against Mrs. Gladys Ada Ukeje, the deceased’s daughter.
Gladys had sued the deceased’s wife and son before the Lagos High Court, claiming to be one of the deceased’s children and sought to be included among those to administer their deceased father’s estate. The Supreme Court found that she was a daughter of the deceased and that she was qualified to benefit from the estate of their father who died in Lagos in 1981 without writing a will on how his estate should be shared among his descendants. The Court of Appeal in Lagos to which Mrs. Lois Ukeje and Enyinnaya Ukeje appealed, upheld the decision of the trial court, prompting them to appeal further to the Supreme Court.