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Experts seek review of estate laws

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Two university teachers, Dr. Babatunde Oni and Dr. Anthony Ewere, have called for a review of laws on estate administration. They urged state governments to review their respective Administration of Estate (Small Estates) laws.
   
Specifically, they want small and personal estates of N500,000 and below to be exempted from paying estate duties before letters of administration are granted.

This, they said, would conform with the present-day realities.

   
They advised other states to emulate Lagos and Oyo, which have exempted small estates from payments of estate duties.
   
They made the call at the presentation of a book entitled: The Law of Succession in Nigeria: Principles, Cases and Practice written by Dr Oni, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka,”.
   
Dr. Ewere, of the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, reviewed the book. Oni said he was motivated to write the book to bridge the gap in existing literature, especially as regards succession.

He said other books in the field are not as comprehensive as his, which he said was necessitated by the desire to cover the field. Oni said: “There are new developments in the area that other previous textbooks have not captured. So I decided to create more chapters to accommodate these and examples are small scale estates, e-probate, and others. I also got encouragement from my students.”
   
Dr Ewere advocated a review of Section 17 of the Evidence Act 2011, which currently regulates judicial notice of customs in Nigeria concerning succession rights. He said the salient provision of section 14 (2) was not obsolete, as far as the application of customary law is concerned about succession rights.
   
Supreme Court Justice, Chima Nweze, who chaired the event, said he went through the book and came to the conclusion that it was not in the class of others.
   
He said it was not a “monograph compilation but a well-researched book and a good resource material.”
   
Justice Kudirat Jose, who represented the Lagos Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, said the book would be of interest to all, particularly those who are going to leave a will behind when they die. “If you don’t, the law of intestate will apply,” she said.
   
The Dean, Faculty of Law, UNILAG, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, said the faculty always takes pride in the research output of their lecturers.
   
She added that the book would contribute to the knowledge of students and legal practitioners.
   
Prof Atsenuwa was confident that the book would change the practice of law of succession in the country and break new grounds.


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