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The distortion of the meaning of bride wealth: significance for the evolution of living customary law in southern Nigeria

By Jane Chinonyerem Diala


Includes bibliographical references.Nigeria’s Constitution does not provide for the interaction of the received English law, statutory law, and customary law. Bride wealth, an important aspect of customary law in southeast Nigeria, symbolises the bride’s worth to her family, as well as a bond between the bride and groom’s families. The changes introduced by colonial rule distorted its meaning to the extent that people disobeyed legislation enacted to curb excessive bride wealth. This disobedience is traceable to socio-economic and cultural factors founded on people’s survival needs. This disobedience has great significance for the evolution of living customary law, legal pluralism, and success of development projects in Nigeria. It signifies that development policies should take into consideration the living customary laws of people at the receiving end of development projects. At a broader level, it also signifies participation of local communities indecision-making that affects them. The thesis suggests that implementation of wide ranging consultations during the law-making process will strengthen democratic institutions in Nigeria

Topics: Comparative Law in Africa
Publisher: Department of Public Law
Year: 2014
OAI identifier:

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