Women’s Inheritance Rights in Nigeria

This paper has five sections. The first will develop the normative framework for examining the issues. This framework will focus on the importance of the cultural transformation approach in informing the analysis. The second section will set out the sources of law in Nigeria, particularly focusing on the interaction between the common law, and the customary law and sharia law as the living law of the nation. It will also explain how land and marriage impact upon the bundle of rights that individuals possess regarding inheritance. Third, inheritance laws in all three systems will be surveyed for both testate and intestate succession. Fourth, there will be a brief survey of key social factors that impact upon widows’ ability to access, enforce, and advocate for inheritance rights. Such factors will include: degrading widow rites, levirate marriage, suspicion regarding wills, the polygamous structure of many Nigerian families, the disconnect between customary law and the lived law due to neo-liberalism, globalization and urbanization, the stigma and vulnerability of HIV, and the women’s movement.
Emory, Vanessa n.d