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Case Law 1 - Family Head


A head of the family is the person who manages family property for and on behalf of other family members.In fact the head of the family represents the family of any gathering or occasion He is the family voice at the village or community meeting. He is the trustee of the family property. See Bassey v. Cobham (1924) 5 NLR 90.


The family head personifies the family. In a loose mode of speech, he is sometimes referred to as the owner but he is to some extent like a trustee in the English sense. Family head wields enormous powers with huge responsibilities attached. The proper person to manage the family land is the oldest male member thereof whether he happens to be the first born, see Lewis v. Bankole (1909) 1 N.L.R 82 or, if the first child be a female, he comes next and so is the oldest male child, see Ricardo v. Abal (1926), 7 N.L.R. 58.


Under most system of customary law, the family head is the eldest surviving male the founder of the family though nowadays, the claims of females has been recognized . On the death of the eldest surviving child, the headship devolves on members in turn according to seniority . However, under the Ibo customary law, the family headship devolves on the eldest son and his male descendants on the principle of primogeniture .


The general rule is that the head of the family once appointed or recognized assumes full control of the family land. But his control over family property is devoid of ownership, what is vested in him is only the day-to-day management of the property . It is the responsibility of the family head to preserve the property and keep it in good state of repairs. He allocates portions of family land to members or others for use and where the property is let out to tenants, it is his duty to collect rent and pay outgoings from the family funds .


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Class: Property Law

Topic: Stamp Duties Act


Stamp duties are taxes paid to the Federal or State governments on Land Instruments such as Conveyances on Sales, Agreements and Contracts documents.


Every State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has a Stamp Duties Law, which establishes the Stamp Duties Office and makes provisions for the process of stamping documents. The duty on land controlled by the State is paid to the State Internal Revenue Board (e.g Lagos LIRS) and that under Federal is paid to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Section 4 (1) Stamp Duties Act, Cap. S8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 states that the Federal Government is the only competent authority to impose, charge and collect duties on instruments specified in the schedule to the Stamp Duties Act where such instruments relate to matters executed between a company and an individual. Stamp duties is a matter in the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution. Which means that, the legal basis of stamp duties is owned by the Federal Government. However, the State governments are permitted to collect duties where the party executing the instrument is an individual.


Stamping of documents should be within 30 days of the execution of the document though it may be stamped out of time, but would attract penalty. Stamp duty statues are tax laws, meant to generate revenue for government. The amount payable is either a flat rate or ad valorem that is according to the value of the transaction, for instance, an Assignment. The law permits the use of post office stamp, which must however be cancelled to avoid loss of revenue on the part of the government. The effect of an unstamped document is that the document cannot be tendered in court as an evidence, and it cannot be accepted for registration.