Anglican Bishop on the Niger, Rev. (Dr.) Owen Nwokolo, of the Anglican Communion, Onitsha, Anambra State, has come out in support of the Supreme Court judgment on the inclusion of female offspring as eligible to inherit their father’s property, as against the Igbo tradition of exclusion of female heirs.
Nwokolo described the judgement/law as good and proper, recounting with regret what had been the situation in Nigeria before the enactment of the law where, by tradition and custom, female offspring had no right to inherit their father’s property.
The Bishop made his views known at the weekend in a homily titled: “The Rewards for Spiritual and Moral Stability,” during a one-day annual summit of the Anglican Students Association (ASA) of the diocese held at the All Saints Cathedral church, Onitsha.
“Before now, females did not have inheritance in their father’s house in Nigeria,” he said. “But I’m happy that today things have changed,” he stated.
The Bishop, sentisizing Nigerian girls on their civil rights said, “In Nigeria now, girls, please know this, if your father shares his property without giving you a portion, tell him that it is wrong; that as long as you are born into this family, it is your right to get inheritance.
“Even if you are married and your father has money, has property and has shared them only among the male children without giving you your own share, tell him that he should give you your own, that you are not a stranger in the family.
“This is because inheritance is for everybody. It is not only for the male children. Anybody born in a family is entitled to get a share of their father’s property,” he said.
“If they say ‘o no, you are wrong, it is not so,’ go to judges. Go to the court where the female judges are. They will give you judgment. Because there is already a Supreme Court judgment that says both boys and girls are entitled to their father’s property,” he explained.
In April 2014, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, confirmed the decision of two lower courts which had found unconstitutional an Igbo customary law of succession excluding female offspring from eligibility to inherit the property of their fathers.
Although he strongly and specifically stressed the right of female inheritance, he appealed to both male and female students to take their spiritual and moral lives seriously in order for them to realize their goals in life.
Bishop Nwokolo encouraged the students to lead chaste lives, warning seriously about the consequences of falling into temptations.
“If you fall into temptations as a young person, the cumulative effects of the falling will greatly impact your life in future,” he cautioned.
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