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The Voice Of Discrimination Against The Adopted Child And The Child Born Out Of Wedlock Under Igbo Customary Legal Jurisprudence: A Constitutional And Judicial Perspective

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(1)Perhaps, the Igbo tradition values a child more than any other thing. Where the Child turns out to be a son the value becomes highly elevated. An adopted son under most Igbo customs can hardly be vested with the custody of the offor (symbol of authority) of the family. The discrimination has now stretched to the position of 1st son (Okpara) even where the adopted son is the first in timer (that is where the adopting family later begat sons after the arrival of the adopted child).Sometimes the biological offspring go as far as disinheriting the adopted son(s) from their father’s estate. It also appears for a biological child to be entitled to inheritance under Igbo Custom the bride price of the mother of the child must have been paid or the traditional right of fathering the child (Immansi) must have been performed by the Father. Where such traditional rites are not performed the paternity of such child reverts back to the father of the mother. In such case the child born out of wedlock shall be deemed to have lost his biological paternity, and as such shall be customarily estopped from right to inheritance or right to 1st Son as the case may be in his biological father’s estate. Such child is most likely to be treated disdainfully like the adopted child.

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(2)Customary laws are generally binding in Nigeria especially when one accepts such custom as his personal law. Such custom when accepted shall be used as parameters in sharing ones estates among his survivors where one dies intestate. Thus, in Zaidan v. Mohsse (1973) NSCC 516 wherein the fact in dispute is whether the Lebanon Muslim tradition should be used to determine the sharing of the estate of Late Y.K Zaidem situate at Warri.Ellias CJN ruling in her favor said:

We are of the view, that, in this context, customary law is any system of law not being the common law and not being a law enacted by any competent legislature in Nigeria but which is enforceable and binding within Nigeria as between the parties subject to its sway. We are also of the view that anybody subject to such law is excluded from the operation of section 49 of the Administration of the Estate Law (Cap 1) of Western Nigeria 1959 applicable in Mid-Western of Nigeria.

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It follows that not even the doctrine of lexsitus (the doctrine that the prevailing custom where an immovable property is situated should determine the sharing of the estate of the testator) can defeat such personal law of the testator; provided such customary law is not inconsistent with the Constitution of Nigeria or repugnant to the principle of natural justice, good conscience and equity. In Olowu & Anor v Olowu [1985] 12 SC Pt. 1 @ 85 Per Obaseki JSC said:

The Court which have been established by the British Government has the duty of enforcing these native laws and customs, so far as they are not barbarous, as part of the law of the land.

(3)It appears that where a child has been properly adopted all rights due to such child cannot be defeated by the personal law (customary law) of the adapter where such personal law is barbaric or inconsistent with section 42(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), 1999(Hereinafter referred to CFRN) which prohibits the discrimination of any Nigerian by whatever name including by reasons of the circumstances of one’s birth. By the combine reading of s.1 (1) & (3) of CFRN which places the constitution supreme to every other law(s) or custom(s) renders the efficacy of that custom impotent. It follows that any law or customs that discriminates an adopted child or a child born out of wedlock from his rightful position whether as 1st Son or in the inheritance from his father’s estate is ineffective.

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(4)In Aduba v Aduba [2018] LPELR-4576(CA) wherein the right of inheritance of an adopted child (now an adult) was in issue. The Appeal Court said:

I think once it is shown that a child was intentionally accepted and integrated into the family, and made to feel a sense of belonging by the adopting Parent(s) or Person(s),nobody should or can rise up to question the good gesture of the adopting parent(s) or person(s) and deny the child(now adult) in covering,gains,benefit or liabilities accruing from the common patrimony of the estate of the adopter(s) or person(s),who adopted the child. To that extent I do not think that the appellant has the vires to reject the Respondent and strip him off the covering, protection and legacy which their parent(s) bestowed or transferred to the Respondent by reason of his acceptance, adoption, training and nurturing as a son of the Family. Appellant, in my opinion lacked the power to overrule their father in death.

It follows that where the adopted son is the first in timer the benefit accrual to him as a 1st son cannot be divested from him. Doing so will violently offend section 42(2) of the CFRN that detests discrimination on the circumstances of one’s birth. Same also applies to a child born out of wedlock. In Ukeje v Ukeje 224/2004 the Supreme Court (Per Ogunbiyi JSC ) said:

I hold did rightly declare unconstitutional, the law that disinherit Children from their deceased father’s estate. It follows that the Igbo native law and custom which deprives children born out of wedlock from sharing the benefits of their father’s estate is conflicting with s.42 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

It also seems the sex of such child at least for the purpose of inheritance is immaterial whether adopted or born out of wedlock. The entire attack by the Igbo customs on female right to inheritance will also founder. The Supreme Court of Nigeria speaking through Rhodes Vivour JSC in Ukeje v Ukeje (supra) echoed:

No matter the Circumstances of the birth of a female child, such child is entitled to an inheritance from her late father’s estate.Consequently,the Igbo customary law which disentitle a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate is in breach of section 42(1)&(2) of the Constitution, a fundamental right guaranteed to every Nigerian.

(5)It appears mare adoption as envisaged in Aduba v Aduba (Supra) does not inure the adopted son all benefits that ought to go to him. Thus, in Olaiya v. Olaiya [2002] 12 NWLR (PT 782) wherein Emmanuel Olaiya and Sairah Olaiya jointly adopted by Solomon Olaiya and Cornelia Olaiya were refused right of inheritance by the Supreme Court on the strict ground that their adopter- mother could neither produce an adoption order or lead evidence to that effect. The case of Aduba v Aduba (Supra) turned out successful for the adopted child (now adult) because all documents validating his adoption were produced. The Appeal Court in Aduba v Aduba (Supra) retorted:

Appellant had placed reliance on Olaiya v. Olaiya [2002]12 NWLR (PT 782) @625 to say that the Respondent did not prove that the adoption complied with the law. I rather think that the case of Olaiya v. Olaiya (Supra) supported the case of the Respondent, as the Exhibit Produced in the case had indicated the registration number of the little boy (Respondent) at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of East Central State,Owerri,as No. 2/53/108.That in my view, was a trace to the official register to the Homeless Children custodied by the Ministry of Health and Social welfare and the Exhibit F was a proof that Respondent was lawfully and officially given to Aduba’s for adoption, though the form filled was “Foster Care Agreement Form”

(6)In the light of the above authorities it is trite that a child whether male or female born out of wedlock or adopted is entitled to inheritance from their father’s estate contrary to the Igbo customary law. Where such adopted Child or child born out of wedlock is a first son he shall so be entitled to all privileges due to the position of 1st son. Doing otherwise will do violence to provisions of section 42 of the CFRN which prohibits discrimination of Nigerian Citizen by whatever name. To that extent, the Igbo custom which discriminates against an adopted child and a child born out of wedlock is null and void.

Chike h. Izuegbu,Esq. B.Sc.(Hons),LL.B(Hons),BL,Dip.(Mgt.).AIBA.ASM,GMNIM is a Nigerian Lawyer with a bias in International Law and Diplomacy.He is a Law Practitioner with B.S.Nwankwo SAN & Co. Nnewi

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VIEWPOINT

Presidential Statement On Twitter Suspension In Nigeria

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President Muhammadu Buhari

The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post. There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.

Nevertheless, the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing. The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.

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The President in his address at the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in 2019 said “the world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers.”

This and similar crimes which have been fueled by social media networks risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.

Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.

President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media’s disruptive and divisive influences and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.

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The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact.

A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

When the President said that they will be treated “in a language they understand,” he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.

This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.

IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.

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Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.

Garba Shehu is
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)

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VIEWPOINT

UN Global Road Safety Week: FRSC Kano Plans Public Education Campaign/Advocacy

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Corp Commander Zubairu Mato Kano State Sector Commander

The UN General Assembly mandated World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Regional Commissions to plan and host periodic UN Global Road Safety Weeks. It was First observed in 2007 with remarkable and impressive achievements.

The 6th UN Global Road Safety Week commences from Monday 17th to 23rd May 2021, and will focused on the issue of speed, which is responsible for about 30% of crashes.

The Week advocates for safer streets motoring by making 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits the norm for cities worldwide in places where people mix with traffic. Hence, the Week is concern about policy commitments at national and local levels to deliver the 30 km/h speed limits in urban areas, and to generate local support for such low speed measures in order to create safe, healthy traffic flow within Urban cities globally as well as to officially launch the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 and its Global Plan.

The Week will also highlight the links between 30 km/h speed limits and attainment of a number of Sustainable Development Goals, including those on health, education, infrastructure, sustainable cities, climate action and partnerships.
As a lead agency in Road Safety Management and administration in Nigeria, FRSC is hosting the event and embarks on nationwide advocacy to replicate this global activity in selected Nigerian Cities which the commercial city of Kano is among.

Pursuant to this, the Kano State Command of FRSC organises public education campaigns programmes to inculcate the norm of 30km/hr speed limits among Road users.

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The Public Education activity will include media charts, Road show, Visits to Hospitals and advocacy visits to stakeholders including policy makers.

I wish to call on the General Motoring Public to always adhere to the maximum legal speed limit of 30km/hr while in the City or in built up areas so as to prevent crashes, its attendant injuries and fatalities.
Kano Command of Federal Road Safety Corps further stressed the need to avoid over speeding which is considered among the critical traffic violations with high risk factor.

I want further stress that Speeding leads to increase in the degree of crash severity, possibly resulting in more fatalities or injuries.

More damage is caused to the vehicles involved at higher speeds, increasing likelihood vehicle will not be drivable after a crash.

Speeding also leads to extra fuel consumption and frequent replacement of auto parts among others.

The high risk associated with speeding mandated the Corps to introduce and enforce the installation of speed limiting devices on all commercial vehicles that flies the Nation’s Roads. This enforcement is currently on-going nationwide.

I urge vehicle owners to install this device on their vehicles to avoid being arrested and sanctioned.

Lastly to this end, i also wish to admonish that failure to comply with the speed limits both within Urban cities and on the highways will not be condoned.

Corps Commander Zubairu Mato
Sector Commander
RS 1.2 Kano State Sector Command

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VIEWPOINT

RE: Secret Fulani Plan Unveiled – THE COMPROMISED ARMY CHIEF – – – Opera News Official

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For the umpteenth time the callous and cowardly enemies of Nigeria’s peace and unity are at their worst moments of divisive and subversive rhetorics against the formidable sovereignty of our beloved nation and its patriotic Nigerian Army.

The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to an online publication anchored by the online medium Opera News Official at https://stories. 6chcdn.feednews.com with the heading “Secret Fulani Plan Unveiled – THE COMPROMISED ARMY CHIEF.”

Ordinarily, the Nigerian Army would have ignored this illogical and pathetic narrative especially as it continues to record tremendous successes in its on-going operations nation-wide under the able leadership of the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru. Nevertheless, for the benefit and awareness of our peace loving and patriotic citizens whom the Nigerian Army owe a duty.

Part of the poorly scripted article states that “Last week, two Igbo officers, Lt Col Okeke and Lt Col Ajah alongside 44 others, predominantly Southern and Middle Belt Christian officers lost their lives in a conspiracy hatched by Fulani senior officers.” Alas, this is the dumbest narrative that has the potential for a Guinness Book of Record. However, to put the record straight, it should be clear that the Nigerian Army does not train, deploy or operate along ethnic, religious, tribal or regional divides thus the name NIGERIAN ARMY. In the past, several subversive elements have attempted to infiltrate the formidable ranks of the Nigerian Army to sow seed of discord among its personnel but failed. This is due largely to the loyalty and belief of the Nigerian Army in one great country, Nigeria.

The amateurish article presented in a self-styled stages 1 – 9 in a fictitious movie like scenerio devoid of even the basic rudiments of a news report but yet laced with potent hatred and venom for Nigeria and its proud citizens. One can not but forgive the illiterate writer of this article and his sponsors for refering to the Chief of Army Staff as Lt Gen Jega (Stage 1, paragraph 1). Similarly, on the alleged killing of some personnel, a quick check on the Nigerian Army personnel data base returned negative for Lt Cols ND Okeke and Aja as there are no name matches currently in service of the Nigerian Army who were alleged to have been killed in a conspiracy whatever that means.

In general, summarizing stages 4 – 9 of the uncoordinated article exposes the real intent albeit the very low IQ of the writers and publishers Opera News. They have distinguished themselves as enemies of our existence and should be seen and treated as such. Furthermore, the Nigerian Army would like to request all peace loving citizens to disregard the content of the said article by Opera News Official in its entirety as it lacks common logic.

The Nigerian Army also wishes to reiterate it’s commitment to the protection of our territorial integrity, defending lives and properties of all citizens and residents in Nigeria. The army further wishes to solicit for the continuous support of all patriotic Nigerians in stamping out activities of criminals including subversive elements for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.

MOHAMMED YERIMA
Brigadier General
Director Army Public Relations

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