they say is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, social habits, music and arts. It is the totality of a people’s way of life. Tradition on the other hand serves as the vehicle through which elements of culture is passed down from generation to generation. Rules made by government are called “laws.”
Laws are meant to control or change our behavior and unlike rules of morality, they are enforced by the courts. Law basically is aimed at ensuring fairness by recognizing and protecting basic individual rights and freedom, such as liberty and equality.
It was in the light of the foregoing that the Supreme Court, in two recent judgments, abolished the ancient culture in Igboland that denies women the right of inheriting property in their father’s house. Specifically, a 5-man panel of Justices of the apex court, held that the practice conflicted with section 42(1)(a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution. Culture and custom According to the court, “Any culture that dis-inherits a daughter from her father’s estate or wife from her husband’s property by reason of God instituted gender differential should be punitively dealt with”.
The Supreme court which described the culture as discriminatory maintained that “The punishment should serve as a deterrent measure and ought to be meted out against the perpetrators of the culture and custom.” *Bode Rhodes Vivour JSC The first judgment was on an appeal marked: SC.224/2004 which was filed by one Mrs. Lois Chituru Ukeje, (wife of late Mr. Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje) and her son, Mr. Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje. The duo entered the appeal against Mrs. Gladys Ada Ukeje who is a daughter to the deceased. The origin of the case was that Gladys sued the appellants before the Lagos State High Court, claiming that as one of the children of the deceased, she said she ought to be included among those to benefit from the family estate. In its verdict, the trial court, found that she was indeed a daughter to the deceased and that she was qualified to benefit from the estate of their father who died in1981. Dissatisfied with the decision, Mrs. Lois and Enyinnaya Ukeje took the case before the Court of Appeal in Lagos, where the lower court judgment was also upheld.