In Nanna v. Nanna (2006 3 NWLR Pt. 966 page 1 at 41 Abba Aji J.C.A. said on the duty of Husband to maintain his wife and children thus:- “The law has clearly provided for the criteria to be followed. A man has a common law duty to maintain his wife and his children and such a wife and child or children have a right to be so maintained. The right of a wife and child to maintenance is not contractual in nature. The husband is obliged to maintain his wife and may by law be compelled to find them necessaries, as meat, drink, clothes et cetera, suitable to the husband’s degree, estate or circumstance. In assessing maintenance, Section 70(a) gives the Court the discretionary power to order and assess maintenance of a party, it is not likened to a claim for special damages where the claimant must strictly prove his entitlement to such award before same can be awarded by the court as submitted by the appellant’s Counsel.”
A husband has a duty under the common law to maintain his wife and his children. It is the right of the wife and the child to demand that they be so maintained. Where a husband neglects to discharge his responsibility of maintaining his wife and children he can be compelled by law. The duty to provide maintenance entails the provision of food (balanced diet), clean water, clothing and shelter by the husband. A man who discharges this duty efficiently acquires for himself the title or appellation of Bread Winner. The importance of providing necessaries to the family is captured by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 under Section 17(3)(h) which enjoins the State to encourage the promotion of family life. It also stipulates under Section 17(3)(f), (g) that the State has a duty towards ensuring that children are protected against material neglect and to provide assistance in deserving cases.
— A. Aboki, JCA. Adejumo v Adejumo (2010) – CA/A/168/08