Current Institutional Affiliation
Senior Lecturer, Private Law, University of the Western Cape

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Private Law, University of Cape Town
Recognition of living customary law in Nigeria: women’s access to land under customary law of succession in South-east Nigeria

Although living customary law regulates the lives of most Nigerians, the extent to which courts apply it is unclear. Living customary law denotes the norms that govern daily life in local communities, in contra-distinction with official customary law or the perception of outsiders. Divergence between official and living customary law features prominently in customary laws of succession, which are out of tune with people's adaption to changes in social and economic conditions. These laws were suited to agrarian societies and aimed at providing material support to deceased persons' families. Official customary law has not kept pace with people's adaption to social changes, thereby causing hardship to women and younger children. This study examines the extent to which courts apply living customary law in Nigeria. It will reach its findings through participant observation, interview of judges and litigants, and examination of consonance and dissonance in decisions of local and superior courts.