Four sisters on 29 March 2023, become di first to benefit from di Rivers State Prohibition of di Curtailment of Women’s Rights to Share in Family Property Law No. 2 of 2022, after one High Court rule in dia favour for case between dem and dia three brothers.
Chinyere, Perpetual, Bertha and Josephine Abel carry dia three brothers to court over inheritance and dem win.
Di court wey Justice Augusta Kingsley Chuku preside over award dem damages to di tune of two million naira (N2 million).
She also order di brothers Godspower, Vincent and Lucky Abel to publish an apology for one national newspaper and two local newspapers for Rivers State.
Di four sisters take dis legal action against dia three brothers for discriminating against dem in di inheritance of dia late papa estate.
Dem ask di court to interpret some sections of di 1999 constitution as amended as well as sections of di Rivers State Prohibition of di Curtailment of Women’s Right to Share in Family Property Law No. 2 of 2022.
Di sisters stand on di fact say dis new law don come into effect for Rivers State, as di den govnor, Nyesom Wike sign am into law for September, 2022.
Many pipo especially gender rights advocates clap hand for dis landmark judgement wen e happen becos dis na di first time dis kain judgement wey favour women to inherit property dey come and na di first time pipo don put di new law into practice to uphold and protect di rights of women to inherit property of dia late parents.
Why di Abel Sisters carry dia brothers go court?
Chinyere Abel Silver, di eldest among di four sisters explain to BBC Pidgin say wen dia papa, Late Peter Bekweri Abel, die for 2022 e no leave any Will, so na dia native law and custom of dia community for Ozuoba, Obio Akpor local goment area naim apply.
All di property of dia parents go to dia three younger brothers.
Dia mother bin don die earlier for 2014.
“My brothers sell off my papa property.”
Then dem bin wan sell off di property wia we bury my papa and my mama and we say no, make dem no sell am naim make we carry dem go court.
I ask dem not to sell dat place becos dat place na our main family house and dem no get any right to sell dis one.” Chinyere tok.
She say “di sharing of those property no be my problem; dat no be my interest becos I be woman. My own be say make dem no sell off dat land wia we bury my papa and my mama as e no good.”
“Di chiefs and elders of our community support us. Any wia we go, di Chiefs say no be good tin for my brothers to sell off di compound wia our parents dey rest so make we no allow dem sell off di place.” She tok.
How di court case go
Na October, 2022 di sisters dem carry dia three brothers go court but dia brothers no gree go court till di court give judgement in dia favour granting dia prayers.
Loving Johnson Akwu, di lawyer wey represent di four sisters say dem rely on Section 42(1a) of di 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as Amended and Section 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11 of di Rivers State Prohibition of di Curtailment of women’s rights to share in family property, Law No. 2 of 2022 to prove di case.
E say na di brothers plan ti sell di compound wia dem bury dia papa and mama ginger di sister to go court.
Di lawyer say di brothers bin try to make settlement out of court but di first daughter wey be di most senior among di seven of dem insist for di court to determine di matter as dia parents die without will.
E add say di brothers no come court and dem no send any lawyer to represent dem.
Di brodas no respond to BBC Pidgin request for reaction.
Wetin di judgement tok?
On 29 March 2023, di Judge, Justice Augusta Kingsley Chuku deliver judgement on di matter and ask di brothers to pay dia four sisters N2million as damages and also publish an apology to dem for one national newspaper and two local newspapers.
Di judgement order di three brothers to reshare di estate of dia late papa to accommodate di sisters adequately.
Di judgement fault di tradition and custom wey di brothers and defendants stand say e dey discriminatory and conflict with di provisions of di Constitution of di Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 42(1) (a) and (2).
Dis Judgement also void di age-long tradition and customary law, wey forbid a female child from inheriting her father estate, a practice wey e describe as “anachronistic”, dat is e dey out of date, primitive and unconscionable and not fit to exist in di 21st-century.
Wetin di Rivers state inheritance law say
For 2022, Michael Chinda, member wey dey represent Obio/Akpor Constituency II for di Rivers State House of Assembly, sponsor di Bill wey dem later signed into law as di ‘Rivers State Prohibition of di Curtailment of Women’s Right to Share in Family Property Law No. 2 of 2022’ by Governor Nyesom Wike.
By enacting dis law, Rivers state become di first state in Nigeria to get dis kain law.
Then governor Wike, as e dey sign di bill to law note say women dey more useful than even di men.
“Di day you dey old and dying, you go know say you need more daughters than men. Dem go leave dia husbands house and come to take care of you.
But becos say you be girl, a woman, you no dey entitled to inherit wetin belong to your father. No be you dey decide weda you go get a girl or a boy. Na God. So, put yourself for dia shoes today wey be say, by God’s mercy, you get three children, all girls, and you struggle in life to see wetin you fit keep for dem.
Wike add say di law go enable women to actualise dia potential, and encourage dem to challenge dis kain discrimination in court based on di new law.
Di law get potential to trigger a domino effect as many states in for di kontri dey follow di same path to make a similar law for dia states in order to do away with all discriminatory practices against women.
Wetin dis Judgement mean for women?
“Di judgement don meet Goal 5 of di UN Sustainable development goals, wey be gender equality,” na so Dr. Hilda Desmond Ihekaire, di Coordinator African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) Rivers State Chapter tok.
Dr. Ihekaire say before now wey dem dey tok about equality, even though di Nigerian constitution tok about non-discrimination and such laws in theory, e no dey common in practice.
But with dis law, e don give hope and na on di basis of dis law and oda laws wey already dey ground dis four sisters stand to gain dia right.
“I thank God say Justice Augusta Chuku apply di provisions of dat law to make sure say those four sisters no dey disinherited, and she also award dem damages and dis na warning signal say a new sherrif dey town and so pipo no go fit continue to do business as usual to disinherit female children or wives and to ignore di clear provisions of di Constitution. “
She observe say discrimination against women for inheritance dey very common with similar cases like Ukeje against Ukeje wey dem get judgement for supreme court, women still be victims of disinheritance.
She add say na for gender Advocates like dem to continue to make pipo aware of di law becos ignorance of di law no be excuse and she note say many of di traditional institutions wey dem don go meet dey express willingness to support women gain dia right to inheritance.
“Make women wey dey cry out, make dem no keep silent becos now e dey clear say such customs wey no allow women inherit dey repugnant to natural law, equity and good conscience so if di women speak out, dem go receive di property wey dey due to dem.” She add.
Lawyer to di four sisters, say dem only don take possession of di said property but di brothers never fulfil do oda aspects of di judgement.
Dis judgement order dem to pay damages of two million naira to di sisters and costs of N100,000 as well as publish apology for both national local newspapers wey dem never so bevoa dem say dem no gey money.
E say, “di next steps na for di sisters to sign power of attorney to me to either manage di said property or sell am so we for generate money to file contempt proceedings against di brothers.”