LEGAL CHALLENGES CONCERNING SOME BENEFICIARIES OF ESTATES GOVERNED BY ISLAMIC LAW IN NIGERIA
Under Islamic law, succession is divided into inheritance (mirath) and wills (wasiyyah) with detailed rules on how the estate of a deceased Muslim should be distributed. Islamic law of succession of the Maliki school is applicable in Nigeria as part of the personal law of Muslims. The application of Islamic legal norms in the country is generally limited by the parameters set by the state. Islamic law and its administration face many challenges from the absence of a legal framework for a systematic administration of estates governed by Islamic law. Other challenges come from the cultures and social practices of the people and from international human rights law and the bill of rights in the Nigerian constitution that vary from some provisions of Islamic succession law. This article analyses the effects of the above on the following classes of beneficiaries: non-Muslims, female heirs, illegitimate children, adopted children, heirs outside the jurisdiction of the court, orphaned grandchildren, dissenting heirs whose concurrence is required, successors to deceased heirs, and the Bait ul-Mal (‘Public Treasury’). The article found that in the face of these challenges, Nigeria remains largely faithful to the Maliki School. The article suggests areas where more compliance with Islamic law is needed.
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