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

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, University of Cape Town
Recognition of living customary law in Nigerian legal system: women’s matrimonial property rights in south-east Nigeria

Divergence between official perceptions of customary law and people's adaptations to socioeconomic changes often causes hardship to women and younger male children. These hardships are most evident in succession and matrimonial property, which are heavily influenced by social changes. These changes occur in the context of poor law reform and the altered agrarian settings of customary law. This research investigates the extent to which judgements reflect living customary law in the context of women's matrimonial property rights in south-east Nigeria. It theorises that people's adaptations to socioeconomic changes give rise to, as well as constitute living customary law. It argues that Nigeria's legal framework is ill-suited to deal with these adaptations, and that an unenforceable right to culture in the Constitution deprives litigants of a platform to assert living customary law. It reaches its findings by triangulating literature reviews, case study, and surveys in Imo and Anambra states of Nigeria.