Frontiers of Law, Political Science and Art

The legal consequences of decision making against the backdrop of the traditionally held view


Evelyn Jason

Succession under Benin customary law in Nigeria is governed by the principles of primogeniture. In other words, the concept of male succession prevails with little modification among the Benin people of Mid-Western Nigeria. The Igiogbe, which represents the family seat or the principal house of the deceased, is customary inherited by the eldest surviving son of the deceased after the performances of the second burial ceremonies. This has been the age long custom of the Benin people. This custom has been judicially recognized by the Nigerian Supreme Court in the case of Arase v. Arase (1981) N.S.C.C. 101. However, in Idehen v. Idehen (1991) 6 N.W.L.R. (Pt.198) 382 the same Supreme Court modified the definition of the Igiogbe under Benin customary law by introducing the concept of multiple Igiogbes, which was totally at variance with the hitherto acknowledged customary law definition. The decision has caused a lot of anxiety and confusion within the traditional society. This paper therefore seeks to address the legal consequences of that decision against the backdrop of the traditionally held view, and also discuss the steps taken by the Oba of Benin to remedy the effect of the decision on the custom of the Benin people.


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