Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

NATIVE LAW IS MIRROR OF USAGE

Dictum

Native law and custom is, I think, a mirror of accepted usage.

— Bairamian, F.J. Owonyin v. Omotosho (1961) – F.S.C.249/1960

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

CUSTOMARY LAW IS LAW, AND NOT ARBITRARILY

The importance of customary law vis-a-vis Customary Courts to adjudication process or administration of justice system in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. The sui generis nature of Customary Courts vis-a-vis the practice and procedure thereof have also been alluded to above. Regrettably, ever since the emergence of the sociological ideas of Roscoe Pound, with particular regard to the modern concept of law in a developing society, the most unreasonable and highly misplaced criticism about African law (customary and nature is that it is merely custom, and not law. However, most cherishingly, concerted efforts have so far been made to sweep away the cobwebs, the myths, prejudices, and philosophical doubts of those who hove all along denied that there was any such thing as African law, customary or native low. Professor Allott, formerly of the School of Oriental And African Studies, University of London, was most pertinent when he wrote, inter alia, thus: ‘African law (customary law) is, in short, reasoned, it is not arbitrary savage or non-existent. The difference between African and Western law is one of degree, not of kind.’

– I.M.M. Saulawa JCA. Agara v. Agunbiade (2012) – CA/L/304/2009

Was this dictum helpful?

YORUBA CUSTOMARY LAW REQUIRES CONSENT OF FAMILY TO SELL LAND

It is a settled position of law that, by Yoruba Customary Law, a transaction for the sale and conveyance of family land requires the consent of all members of the family or substantial majority of them. See AFOLABI COKER VS MARIAMO OGUNTOLA & ORS (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 87); ELIAS VS OLAYEMI DISU & 3 ORS (1962) 1 ALL NLR 214; FOKO VS FOKO (1965) NMLR 3, EBOSIE VS EBOSIE (1976) 6 UILR 217.

— S.D. Bage, JSC. Onyekwuluje v Animashaun (2019) – SC.72/2006

Was this dictum helpful?

CUSTOMARY LAW IS A QUESTION OF FACT TO BE PROVED

It is well settled that customary law is a question of fact to be proved by evidence. See Section 14 of Evidence Law. Hence a party who alleges the existence of a particular custom must adduce sufficient evidence in support and to establish its existence to the satisfaction of the court. See Inyang v Ita (1929) 9 NLR 84. But there comes a time when by frequent litigation in the courts, a point of customary law has been sufficiently ruled upon, the courts will no longer require proof, and would be prepared to take judicial notice of it. See Angu v Attah, PC 74, 28, 43; Buraimo v Gbamgboye (1940) 15 NLR 139; Giwa v Erimolokun (1961) 1 All NLR 294, 1 SCNLR 337. The burden is on the defendants to establish the custom they rely upon for their defence. Balogun v Labiran (1988) 3 NWLR (Part 80) 66. Indeed only a single decision, sufficiently cogent and authoritative would be sufficient – Larinde v Afiko (1940) 6 WACA 108, but see Cole v Akinyele (1960) 5 FSC 84; (1960) SCNLR 192; Folami & others v Cole & others (1990) 2 NWLR (Part 133) 445.

– Karibe-Whyte JSC. Agbai v. Okogbue (1991) – SC 104/1989

Was this dictum helpful?

WHAT JUDGE MAY DO WHEN CUSTOMARY LAW IS NOT PLEADED

When the learned trial Judge felt convinced that the fact of the customary law of Enugu-Ukwu relevant and material to the case ought to have been pleaded and proved, but was not, he could not have suggested to the respondents (plaintiffs before the court) to amend their pleadings. To have done so would have meant that he was aiding them to establish their case. But he could have advised himself that unless pleadings were duly amended, he could not raise the lack of proof of the fact, material as it was, suo motu, and proceeded to make an order of striking out on that ground. He could have properly called on counsel on both sides at the address stage of the proceedings to address him on the propriety of a non-suit as, unlike in Lagos State, for which see Anyakwo v. A.C.B. Ltd. (1976) 2 S.C. 41, pp. 55-65; Lawal v. National Electric Power Authority (1976) 3 S.C. 109, p.135, a decree of non-suit is still available in Anambra.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ugo v Obiekwe (1989) – SC.207/1985

Was this dictum helpful?

A STATUTE WILL NOT APPLY TO CUSTOMARY LAW

Distinguishing these cases from the instant case, the Court of Appeal correctly held that the marriage between P.W.1 and the appellant was shown to be under native law and custom. In further distinguishing the cases, the Court of Appeal referred to the facts. In Rimmer v. Rimmer (supra) both husband and wife were wage earners. They bought a house in the name of the husband as the matrimonial home. The wife provided the deposit for the house. The rest of the purchase money was borrowed on the security of a mortgage from a building society in the name of the husband. Part of the principal of the mortgage money was repaid out of the housekeeping money provided by the husband. The remainder was repaid by the wife out of her money at a time her husband was on war service. The wife provided all the furniture for the home out of her own resources. When subsequently, the husband left the wife and the house was sold, the proceeds was shared equally between them on a summons under section 17 of the Married Women’s Property Act 1881 (U.K.). This was because it was not possible fairly to assess the separate beneficial interests of the husband and wife by reference to their contributions to the purchase of the house. In the instant case, the Married Womens’ Property Act 1881 (U.K.) is inapplicable since the marriage is governed by customary law.

– Karibe-Whyte JSC. Amadi v. Nwosu (1992)

Was this dictum helpful?

PATERNITY ACKNOWLEDGED CHILD WILL SHARE IN ESTATE

Alake v. Pratt (1955) 15 W.A.C.A. 20, to the effect that if paternity of children is acknowledged by a man during his lifetime they are to be regarded as legitimate and entitled to share in his estate with his children born of a marriage contracted under the Marriage Ordinance.

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.