Abia State House of Assembly passes H.A.B. 61: Abia State Female Persons Right of Inheritance of Property Bill, 2022, sponsored by the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Engr Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji into Law.
The Law Provides for the Right of a Female Person to Own and Inherit Property.
The Bill which was passed into law after scaling through the third reading at the Wednesday plenary of the State Assembly has been raising dust as many believed that it will be an effort in futility, while others believed it was a right step in the right direction.
But the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Speaker of the State Assembly, Jude Ndukwe in an exclusive interview with our correspondent while giving insight about the Bill said that the passage of the Bill into Law was based on natural justice, equity and good conscience, adding that the law takes effect from the day the Bill was passed into law.
He added that the Bill is expected to be transmitted to the governor of the state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to assent to the Law.
According to Ndukwe, “This is a bill that is based on natural justice, equity and good conscience. You can’t say that because somebody is a female and the persons is for example, the only daughter of a man and that the man has suffered to train this daughter and they suffered together and the man died eventually and some uncles who never contributed to the progress of the family in any way and who may not have known the girl will come from the village to want to deny the only daughter, the right to her father’s inheritance.
“It is against natural justice. Yes, it might be entrenched in the culture but of course, we all know that there are several cultures entrenched in the society that have been overtaken by the evolution of society such as the issue of killing of twins, killing of albinos.
“This is another culture that has to be taken on so that females will not be treated based on their gender, but to be treated first as humans especially these days when even the female child contributes in some families in taking care of the parents even more than the sons.
“But when it comes to the sharing of properties, they will aggressively deny the girl-child the right to share in her father’s property because she is a female.
“So, Mr. Speaker looked at it and said that the lawmakers have to do the needful; that the females are protected and that they should have what naturally should be theirs. That it is a cultural thing doesn’t mean that it cannot be amended for the purposes of ensuring justice, fairness and equity based on humanity and not based on gender.
“The Bill has been on for quite some time, but yesterday was the culmination of the whole thing. It was the day that they did the third reading in the committee of the whole and made the necessary clause by clause amendments before it was passed.
“One of the clause amendments that took some time before it was passed by the lawmakers was the issue of whether the female who will inherit the father’s property is married or not, but they said that it doesn’t matter. That the female regardless of her marital status should be part of her father’s property.
“What the law said is that, if the man has four children and has four properties, the children will share it according to their seniority. If the female is the first born, she should take her share as the first born. If she is the second born, she should take her share as the second born.
“The sharing formula will follow what has been on ground, but the lawmakers are saying that the total exclusion of the female child from having a share in her father’s property can no longer be accepted. There are also penalties for anyone who circumvents the law for whatever reasons.
“The female can always seek redress in court based on this and it was stated that the court can award damages to the female in monetary terms worth the property that she was ab initio denied or that the property should be returned to her. It is no longer getting involved in fisticof, all she needs to do is to walk to court and seek redress.
“A lot of people have been hailing the speaker for such a feat. Anyone who has issues with that law probably needs to check him or herself. I don’t see why I should have a sister and would not want her to share in my father’s property. I should be happy that there is a law protecting my sister. Whoever is criticizing that law will only be doing that from the point of selfishness.
“I can assure you that the governor will assent to the law. The reason is that almost all the laws passed by the state House of Assembly are people oriented and community focused. Remember that this house passed the violence against persons’ prohibition Law, Diaspora Law, Disability Law and the governor has not ceased to sign any of these laws because even as the laws get to the governor, the governor sees the overwhelming merits of these laws that he wastes no time in signing the laws.”