The rights of the females to own or share from their family property has been legalised by the Abia State House of Assembly, Umuahia .
The law, which was signed by the Speaker, Hon Chinedum Orji, was also, sponsored earlier by the same Speaker in a bill known as H.A.B. 61 and was named “Abia State Female Persons Rights of Inheritance of Property Bill 2022″.
It was approved by members of the Legislature after every aspect of the bill, according to them, was looked into, as a motion by Majority Leader, Solomon Akpulonu and seconded by the Minority Leader, Chijioke Chukwu rounded up the deal for the women society in Abia.
If signed into action by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu or his successor, the women will now hold their own knives to carve a share of family property and can also inherit the ones owned by their parents.
Though entire body of the nascent Law has not been explained in details by the Abia House members, a source from the parliament revealed that it is going to be a new dawn in families and communities. News Echo went round the State to gather the reactions of some stakeholders concerning the merits and implications of the new order and reports:
Dr Ngozi Okechukwu
She is the State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA) and has given a thumb-up to Abia House of Assembly for approving the Law.
Dr Okechukwu who explained that her office in Abia State had been in the crusade for gender equality and peace in homes, said the Law when signed by the Governor would bring a new breath of air to development in Abia.
She commended Abia First Lady, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu for tackling gender-based violence in the State. HRM, Eze (Evangelist) Ogbuka Origa of Okorie-Ogori Aut. Com, Abam, Arochukwu LGA
The royal father is of the opinion that the Law would need to be communicated and explained to people of various cultures for it to truly become practical.
According to him, the contributions of traditional rulers, who are the custodians of the people’s culture, should first be solicited before any important or popular policy of this magnitude is introduced in the State.
According to the royal father , the roles of the monarchs mean that they are like permanent secretaries in office who will always be relevant during every administrative dispensation and therefore , must be consulted when Laws that have far-reaching importance or implications are being proposed or being passed.
Eze Origa , who is the IFE, is also the Chairman of Abam Onyerubi traditional rulers council, noted that in some communities of Abia State like Abam, Abriba, Nkporo and even the Edda in Ebonyi State , the system of Inheritance of family property is unique in those communities .
Though he applauded the roles that the women play in taking care of their aged parents and other important roles they play in community building, the traditional ruler made it clear that every clan would still have to sit down and digest this new Law to see how to implement it and to know how to accommodate women on sharing table.
He however pointed out that no clan should be forced to immediately adopt the Law. He observed that if not well handled, there may be unending war between the female ladies and the wives of their brothers over who controls a family property and this he feared, may create more chaos than the peace the Law seeks to bring.
Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu
To the wife of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Nkechi, the new Law is a welcome development considering the importance of the women in the society, especially in Abia where her foundation, Vicar Hope Foundation is leading the war against gender -based violence.
Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu has been in the crusade of protecting widows, underage girls and kids from every form of domestic, community or culture-based violence.
Speaking to NewsEcho about the Female Property Inheritance Law, the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia First Lady, Mr Chika Ojiegbe stressed that the Abia First Lady was happy with the development as it would aid her efforts in the securing the securing the rights of the females .
It may spell doom for elders, increase divorce– Traditionalist
A traditionalist from Umuchieze , Umunneochi LGA, Ichie Aja Ogidi has warned that the female inheritance law may lead to death of elders in various of communities in Abia if it is forcefully implemented by government agencies .
He insisted that people like him were not consulted before the issue was discussed, warning that the Law on male inheritance of property is a an age-long practice that has helped maintain peace in families .
He feared that any elder who rushes to implement the law hook, line and sinker may pay with his life as according to Ichie Ogidi, the ancestors may kill such person instantly.
Ichie Ogidi reasoned that the practice of the first male child inheriting his late father’s ancestral house and some other property rights are not revocable. He noted that a woman enjoys the property of her husband where she is married to.
The traditionalist also reasoned that there may be increase in Court cases involving girls and their brothers over sharing of family assets.
Apart from Court cases, he warned that many girls of marriage age may not like to marry again as they may be tempted to remain in their parents’ house to control property.
“Even those already married may no longer concentrate in their husbands homes as their eyes would always be fixed on their inheritance at their place of birth and the rate of divorce would keep rising .”
He went on, “In some cases, some husbands would sponsor their wives to go and drag family property at the women’s places of birth”, said the Ichie.
A victory for female children —Group
A group , Female Child Has A Future, (FCHF) has says the female children are not accorded the deserved love and training by many parents in the Abia and Igbo society, thereby denying them several rights , including inheritance .
And for this, the FCHF through its Executive Director, Mrs Marygold Ubaksnsi has backed the recently passed law by Abia House, saying the passing of persons with disabilities law and that of female property inheritance have distinguished the present House of Assembly as people-oriented.
Findings by this correspondent have shown that some parents living in Umuahia and Aba have successfully transferred the ownership of their landed property to their wives and daughters, even while the parents are still alive.
In most of these transactions, there were little or no challenges as the official land papers were handed over to the new owners by their parents.
However, the reverse is the case in most Abia villages as cultures in such villagers insist that “Women don’t drag property” (Nwanyi adighi azo ala).
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had in landmark judgment in September 2020 in a suit SC.224/2004 ruled in favour of Mrs Lois Chituru Ukeje, the wife of late Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje and Enyinnaya Ogbonna (son to late Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje ) against Ms Ada Gladys who is the daughter to the late Lazarus Ogbonna .
The Supreme Court in its judgment ruled that women in Igboland should share or inherit from family property.
Though the ruling happened two years ago, Igbo system of property inheritance which are most enjoyed by the male, are still practiced in most parts of Igbo land.
If the Abia female property ownership and Inheritance law will be implemented or not, the years ahead will tell.