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Akwa Ibom Man to Return Late Brother’s Properties to Nieces, Pay N20 Million Damages

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UYO, Nigeria – The Akwa Ibom State High Court, in Uyo made a landmark ruling on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, solidifying the right of females to inherit their father’s property.

In a groundbreaking decision, the court awarded N20 million in favour of two nieces who their uncle denied their inheritance.

In his judgment, Justice Ntong Ntong ordered Sampson Silas Udoh to compensate his nieces with N20 million for violating their fundamental rights and obstructing their claim to their late father’s property.

Udoh, a resident of Itiam Etoi in Uyo LGA, had been opposing his nieces’ inheritance rights on the grounds of their gender.

The dispute came to the court on August 16, 2022, when Mrs Bakabasi Victor James and Miss Ndantiabasi Isaac Silas initiated legal action against their uncle.

Williams Ubetem, the Investigating Police Officer, IPO, also played a crucial role in the case.

Justice Ntong criticized Udoh’s actions as being “obnoxious and repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience”, declaring the denial of inheritance based on gender as “opprobrium, offensive and unconstitutional.”

He narrated, “The respondents said their father built his own house on his land between 1976 and 1980, which they lived from birth till date without any problem, until they attempted to appropriate the inheritance and their uncle unleashed mayhem on them.”

In a call to action for local leaders, Justice Ntong stressed that paramount rulers, clan heads, village heads and community leaders in Akwa Ibom State need to acknowledge the fact that, “Female children have equal stake with their male counterparts to inherit their parents’ property.”

He elaborated on the details of the respondents’ inheritance: “The first and second respondents acquired their father’s property at Isaac Silas Udo Obot’s compound, Nung Udoetok Ibom Adia Abasi of Itiam Etoi, Uyo, a fact contained in exhibits canvassed in their counter affidavit in the minutes of the peace meeting and property sharing agreement of Udoetok Ibom Adia Abasi family, dated 11th January, 2019.”

The judgment is a blow to deeply rooted patriarchal customs and underlines the importance of gender equality in the inheritance process.

Justice Ntong concluded, “From the totality of credible evidence before the court, the police and other respondents did not and are not likely to encroach or infringe upon the applicant’s rights. Instead it was the applicant that infringed upon the fundamental rights of his nieces, with impunity, which cannot be allowed to stand.’’

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