Home VOL. 7 (2021) A Case for the Recognition of the Right of Spouses under Customary...

A Case for the Recognition of the Right of Spouses under Customary Law to Maintenance

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Abstract

Customary law marriages in Nigeria are not only recognised as legal unions, but also confer on parties a measure of rights and privileges. Unfortunately, these rights and privileges are far less attractive compared with marriages conducted under the Marriage Act. Prominent among these rights is the right to maintenance. The purpose of this paper is to make a case for the recognition of the right of spouses under customary law to maintenance, especially giving that customary law is dynamic, flexible and must be acceptable to the people. This research reveals that recent behaviours under traditional African customary law tend to favour the extension of the English rule of maintenance to spouses of customary law marriage, especially the wife. Recent judicial pronouncements ascribing important proprietary right to Nigerian women and the general and gradual changes in certain obnoxious and oppressive customary gender based practices as well as recent local legislation restoring the prestige and status of the woman in Nigeria all tend to support the case that it is high time the right of spouses under customary law to maintenance was recognised.

Authors: Brown E. Umukoro