Igiogbe custom as a mandatory norm in conflict of laws: an exploration of Nigerian appellate courts' decisions

Chukwuma Samuel Adesina Okoli, Abubakri Yekini, Philip Oamen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Under the Igiogbe custom of the Bini Kingdom of Edo State Nigeria, the eldest surviving son, exclusively inherits the ancestral home of his deceased father. This custom is a mandatory norm in conflict of laws. Litigation on the custom has been described as a matter of life and death. There is a widely shared view among academic writers, practitioners, and judges that this customary rule is absolute. Contrary to this popular view, this work argues that the Igiogbe rule can be displaced by statute and other customary or religious laws. To substantiate this position, we examine all the reported appellate court decisions on the Igiogbe rule and other connected principles. We find that it is often taken for granted that every Bini man is subject to customary law, thereby leading to the overriding application of the Igiogbe rule. Recent developments in case law suggest otherwise. We find that there is a conflict of personal law question that is often ignored in most litigation concerning the Igiogbe. Careful consideration of this question can potentially lead to the application of other systems of succession law (statutory, religious, and other customary laws) other than the Igiogbe rule. Besides, these conflict of laws techniques and constitutional human rights norms can be used to strike the appropriate balance between competing interests and reasonable legitimate expectations of the deceased and their heirs.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAfrican Journal of International and Comparative Law
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 1 Oct 2023


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