Adekile, O., (2020) “Palm Tree Justice in Joint Ownership of Assets on Divorce at Customary Law: Assessing the Case of Toyin Arajulu v James Monday”
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Faculty of Law, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos State
The rights of women to property on divorce remains a vexed question in Nigeria. The sub set of this is whether a woman married under Yoruba customary law can enjoy any property rights in property vested exclusively in the husband after their divorce? What would be the basis of such interests? And how would the interests of children affect those of the parents in such circumstances? Against the backdrop of a dual legal system in Nigeria, one challenge of courts is how to bring concord between customary law principles and English law principles; these at times are diametrically opposed. In Toyin Arajulu v James Monday the judge used ‘palm tree justice’ in order to achieve a fair outcome where the wife claimed beneficial interests in property vested exclusively in the husband at the time they divorced. By examining above decision and reviewing the extant legal background, the goal of this paper is to determine whether under customary law it can be said that there is an emerging precedent for equal rights of spouses to property on divorce. Consequently, the paper examines the rights of divorced spouses to property vested on one of them at the time of divorce within the ‘palm tree justice’ stated. It finds that the justice of the case is not actually tilted in favour of women; rather there are core limitations to its much acclaimed justice for women. The ‘palm tree justice’ in the case gives a watery precedent that may not stand on appeal. The paper concludes that while the desire of the court is commendable, the acclaimed gender rights validation of the case is questionable in the light of the theoretical deficiency. It underscores the need for reassessment of our customary laws towards a more robust protection of property rights in marriage and divorce.
Palm tree , Justice , Property , Customary law , Research Subject Categories::LAW/JURISPRUDENCE
Adekile, O. (2020) “Palm Tree Justice in Joint Ownership of Assets on Divorce at Customary Law: Assessing the case of Toyin Arajulu v James Monday” LASU Law Journal vol.15. No.1 2020 pp. 213- 230