Journal of
Law and Conflict Resolution

  • Abbreviation: J. Law Conflict. Resolut
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9804
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLCR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 102


A critique of certain aspects of the grounds, procedure and reliefs attaching to customary divorce law in Southern Nigeria

Maurice Okechukwu Izunwa
  • Maurice Okechukwu Izunwa
  • Department of International Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 April 2013
  •  Accepted: 03 November 2015
  •  Published: 30 November 2015


Divorce does great violence to marriage, and by extension to family and society. Although the provisions for divorce under the Nigerian Matrimonial Causes Act frustrates the ideal of a lifelong union made normative by the natural law, the provisions and practices of divorce under the various customary laws are arguably much more devastating to the quintessential stability of marriage. It is either that the grounds enabling divorce are so elastic and plural to encompass anything whatsoever; or that the procedure for initiating and securing  divorce is overly discriminatory and human right insensitive; or that the reliefs attaching thereto are not  satisfactory or sufficient. The purpose of this study is to advance some criticisms against the grounds, procedure and reliefs predicated on customary divorce law in southern Nigeria. It is the finding thereof that much of the corpus of the customary divorce laws applicable to southern Nigerian are contrary to natural justice, equity and good conscience. The methods employed in this study are analysis and hermeneutics of customs on the one hand and statutory and case constructions on the other hand. All in all, this study recommends a thorough going revision of the customary rules on divorce with statutory limitations as guard flies.
Key words: Divorce, customary law, bride price and reliefs.