Precolonial Legal System in Africa: An Assessment of Indigenous Laws of Benin before 1897

Idahosa Osagie Ojo and Eghosa O. Ekhator, ‘Precolonial Legal System in Africa: An Assessment of Indigenous Laws of Benin before 1897.’ 5 (2020) Umewaen: Journal of Benin and Edo Studies 38-73

36 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Idahosa Ojo

Idahosa Ojo

Benson Idahosa University

Eghosa Ekhator

Derby Law School

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

There were salient novelties in the legal system of the Benin Kingdom and other areas in pre-colonial Africa that promoted justice, peace, and order among people and communities. Special provisions such as collective responsibility in legal personality, the law of primogeniture, the fusion of laws and religion in theory and practice, and the recognition of societal status and political position in legal proceedings amongst other legal concepts were incorporated into the body of laws in Benin. Previous intellectual efforts center on the political, economic, and social aspects of history, largely neglecting these legal dynamics and other vital areas of the kingdom’s organization. Hence, this study analyzes indigenous legal concepts in the Benin Kingdom using several varieties of primary and secondary sources. It contends that Benin, like other African societies, developed practical and useful legal concepts that helped in the consolidation of peace and harmony throughout its length and breadth, and that these indigenous Benin legal concepts were in force till 1897.

Keywords: Indigenous Laws, Benin, Collective Responsibility, Individual Responsibility, Religious law, Law of Primogeniture

Suggested Citation

Ojo, Idahosa and Ekhator, Eghosa, Precolonial Legal System in Africa: An Assessment of Indigenous Laws of Benin before 1897 (2020). Idahosa Osagie Ojo and Eghosa O. Ekhator, ‘Precolonial Legal System in Africa: An Assessment of Indigenous Laws of Benin before 1897.’ 5 (2020) Umewaen: Journal of Benin and Edo Studies 38-73 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3854384

Idahosa Ojo

Benson Idahosa University ( email )

G.R.A. Benin City
G.R.A.
Benin City, 234
Nigeria

Eghosa Ekhator (Contact Author)

Derby Law School ( email )

Kedleston Road
Derby, Derbyshire DE22 1GB
United Kingdom

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