In a bold challenge to patriarchy and the historical exclusion of women in succession matters, S4C’s legal team provided legal support to a woman excluded from accessing her late husband’s benefits and administering his properties contrary to the priority rule established under the Administration of Estates’ Law of Lagos State. Mrs. O’s (“the complainant”), late husband’s family members took charge of the burial arrangements and all the properties of the deceased, locking the wife and the children out from the family home in Ikorodu, Lagos State.
Mrs. O and her late husband married under the Marriage Act in 2004 in Lagos. Mrs. O’s husband, a police officer from Ikorodu Lagos State died after a brief illness, leaving the widow with (five) children, which includes a child the deceased sired with another woman before his marriage to the complainant. When she tried to claim her late husband’s statutory entitlements from the police authorities after her husband’s death, she found out that her late husband’s family members in tacit connivance with the child born before the marriage had already initiated a claims’ process without her consent and knowledge.
S4C’s legal team immediately petitioned the Lagos State Commissioner of Police on behalf of the complainant, advocating for the widow’s right to access late husband’s statutory entitlements and administer the estate left behind. Responding to the petition, the Lagos State Command brokered several meetings between parties where S4C’s legal team argued that the widow is the primus inter pares administrator of her late husband’s estate by virtue of the provision of the Administration of Estates Law of Lagos State. That law gives priority to the spouse to obtain Letters of Administration to administer the estate of a deceased person who died intestate. Unanimously upholding this position of the law, the police authorities restrained the deceased’s family members from interfering with Mrs. O’s right to process the deceased’s entitlements and ordered them to return all the deceased’s properties in their possession.