Inheritance: Court awards N20.1m cost against petitioners’ uncle

Inheritance: Court awards N20.1m cost against petitioners’ uncle

Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo has ordered an indigene of Itiam Etoi in the Uyo Local Government Area, Mr. Sampson Silas Udoh to pay N20.1 million (Twenty million, one hundred thousand naira) to two of his nieces for breaching their fundamental rights by stopping them from inheriting their late father’s property.

The Court presided over by Justice Ntong Ntong gave the order on Wednesday, 26 July 2023 in a judgment delivered in a suit brought by Mr Sampson Silas Udoh for the enforcement of his fundamental rights against his nieces.

In the suit filed on 16th August 2022, are the respondents, Mrs Bakabasi Victor James and Miss Ndantiabasi Isaac Silas, as well as Mr Williams Ubetem, the Investigating Police Officer, IPO attached to the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia and the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Command.

According to the court: “The main contention of the applicant is that his nieces being female children of his late elder brother, Mr Isaac Silas Udoh, should not inherit their father’s property because they are women, while the respondents said their father built his own house on his own land between 1976 and 1980, which they live from birth till date without any problem, until they attempted to appropriate the inheritance and their uncle unleashed mayhem on them.”

Justice Ntong Ntong in a one-hour judgement described the action of the applicant “as obnoxious and repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience”, stressing that “the maltreatment is opprobrium, offensive and unconstitutional”.

He said it was high time: “Paramount rulers, clan heads, village heads and community leaders in Akwa Ibom State came to terms with the facts that female children have an equal stake with their male counterparts to inherit their parents’ properties.”

The court said: “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.”

Justice Ntong held: “The applicant cannot be allowed to take advantage of the vulnerability of his nieces just because they were born girls and women into their family.

“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 rights of the applicant.

“Instead, it was the applicant that infringed upon the fundamental rights of his nieces, with impunity, which cannot be allowed to stand,” Justice Ntong said.

The court also held that: “The application for the enforcement of the applicant’s fundamental rights has failed woefully in its entirety and dismissed same with the cost of the total sum of twenty million, one hundred thousand naira payable to the 1st and 2nd respondents at ten million, fifty thousand Naira, each.”

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