FAMILY HEAD VIS-À-VIS FAMILY PROPERTY IN NIGERIA

The family head is a very important person in the family structure, and is the only representative and administrator of family properties.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/30/20220 min read

FAMILY HEAD VIS-À-VIS FAMILY PROPERTY IN NIGERIA

The family head is a very important person in the family structure, and is the only representative and administrator of family properties. However, he is not the absolute owner of the family property but he is a part owner, and as the manager, whatever proceeds he makes from the family property must be accounted for strictly. Family properties are properties vested in a family as a corporate entity. The individual member of the family therefore, has no separate claim of ownership to any part or whole of it.

It is settled from very early times that, under native law and custom, the management of the family property and the control of all the affairs of the family are all powers or rights vested exclusively in the head of the family. The power of the head of the family is simply “getting control of the family and giving orders in his father’s house” as described by the Court in Lewis v Bankole. The Family Head, severally known as Olori Ebi, Mogaji, Baale or Dawodu, is the individual responsible for the central control and management of the common affairs of the family, especially in so far as these relate to the family properties.

The family head personifies the family. As such, the powers and rights of ownership of family land are vested in, and exercisable by, him on behalf of the family. Viscount Haldane in Amodu Tijani v. Secretary of Southern Nigeria noted that “the family head takes charge of the management and control of the family property. In loose mode of speech, he is sometimes referred to as the owner but he is some extent like a trustee in the English sense.”

The new trends on the relevance of family head include: function as intermediary, security purpose, disputes settling purpose, for the purpose of celebration and other various administrative purposes. Beyond the management of family properties, family heads are fast becoming intermediaries between government and private individuals and their family members. Being an intermediary is often for security purposes. For community policing to work, the work of the family head cannot be overemphasised. They often know where each person in the society comes from, hence, easy to lay hold on deviants.

When it comes to dispute resolution, the family head has a tangible role to play. Disputes can involve property, even family property, it takes the wisdom of the family head to settle the matter and achieve peace. In another light, family head is often the anchor when it comes to various family celebrations. In fact, the continued relevance of Monarchs gives credence to Family Heads as they often work hand-in-hand.

While it is apparent that Family Heads in recent times are fact-becoming ceremonial rather than managerial due to the fact that family properties especially land are being partitioned or being sold indiscriminately to private and corporate individuals, it is trite that the concepts and customs of Family Head and family property will continue to be relevant. This is because the efficacy of the concepts are widely accepted and acknowledged by the people.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

EMAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

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