Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City has set aside the judgment of a High Court presided over by Justice J.O. Omorodion, which ruled that the adjoining land to an ‘Igiogbe’ remained part and parcel of the property located at No 32, Agbado Street, Benin City.
‘Igiogbe,’ according to Benin Native Law and Custom, is the house where a deceased father lived, died and buried. It is passed to the eldest son by inheritance after he had performed his father’s burial rites.
Appellants in the case, Messers Edomwonyi Aiguokunrueghian, Uhunmwenkpema Aiguokunrueghian, Monday Aiguokunrueghian for themselves and on behalf of the children of Aiguokunrueghian, Taiwo Alegbesogie and Igbineweka Ogedegbe, dissatisfied with the judgment of the lower court over the land adjoining the Igiogbe, took their case to the Court of Appeal.
The appellate court in its ruling delivered by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka and unanimously adopted by Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa and Justice Ugochukwu Anthony Ogakwu overruled the lower court.
“I am of the view therefore that clause 7 of the will having devised the Igiogbe and the adjoining land to the appellants’ father, his bequest in respect of the adjoining land is not caught up by the Phrase subject to.”
The court ruled that “in other words, the adjoining land which is inbuilt remains the property of the father, the appellants and by necessary inference that of the first to third appellants. The holding of the lower court is in error and is hereby set aside.”
The court held that though under Benin Customary Law neither testamentary disposition nor family arrangement could deprive the eldest son of the Igiogbe, adding that “it never decided that vacant land also constitutes Igiogbe.”
It added that a testator had the right to devise any of his properties save the Igiogbe to whomsoever he wished.


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