*HARMFUL WIDOWHOOD PRACTICES (TRADITIONS) ARE ILLEGAL IN NIGERIA.* DAILY LAW TIPS (Tip 589) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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Many are the afflictions of widows in Nigeria. Most communities and traditions have been in existence long before the independence of Nigeria in 1960 and her latest constitution of 1999. Hence, ignorance, quest for dominance, selective amnesia and wickedness among others, often embolden many Nigerians (including the educated ones) to assume that their cultures and traditions supersede the constitution of Nigeria.

“We cannot depart from the ways of our forefathers”, “It is a taboo, to fail to do this ….” and “… it has never been done before, it cannot be done” are common defining statements that justify the inhuman and degrading treatment of widows across Nigeria (however, there is no known harmful practise for widowers).

There is no justification for any harmful widowhood practise in any part of Nigeria or under any religion or tradition in Nigeria. If a widow is suspected of any offence, let her be reported to the law enforcement agencies.

Harmful widowhood practises are illegal and unlawful. They are punishable with

2 years imprisonment or and fine of N500,000.00, that is for any person that subjects a window to any harmful traditional practice. Punishments for attempting such offence or assisting and aiding an offender is imprisonment for 1 year and or fine of #200,000.00.

Kindly note that the federal law creating the above offence is operational in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Similar state laws are now operational in Anambra State, Ebonyi State and Oyo State. Soon, more States will enact similar laws as we encourage states to condemn violence against persons. However it is advised that the punishment above, provided by the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, be made to be minimum punishment and not just maximum punishment to avoid releasing offenders with mere slaps on their wrists.

My authorities are sections 15, 47 and 48 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 and similar laws across states in Nigeria.

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