The concept of “legal pluralism” exists in Nigeria wherein three systems of law are simultaneously in operation. The interactions between these systems of law with respect to a common subject matter have resulted in serious internal conflicts of laws and human rights issues. The interactions between common law, statutes and customary law on the subject of legitimacy and legitimation offer a more complex problem. The situation is further compounded, when it is viewed against the backdrop of succession. With the enactment of Section 42 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, many public affairs commentators, lawyers, social workers and some Human Rights activists were of the opinion that the concept of illegitimacy has been abolished in Nigeria by that section of the Constitution. Unfortunately, this initial optimism has paved way to despair in certain aspects concerning succession on intestacy. This paper therefore seeks to examine the concepts of legitimacy, legitimation and succession in Nigeria, with a view of evaluating the legal effect of Section 42 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended on the rights to inheritance of an illegitimate child in Nigeria. Also the study shall suggest ways in which the lacuna that still exist in spite of the Constitutional provisions can be address and further enhance the status of person born out of wedlock.
Key word: Legitimacy, legitimation, succession, Nigerian Constitution rights of inheritance.
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