Judicial System In Nigeria – (All You Need To Know).

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Judicial System In Nigeria have powers vested on them to enforce the law of the federation through the judges. The States have their own Judicial System that enforce state laws, while the federal government has its own Judicial System  that enforce federal laws.

Judicial System In Nigeria

These laws are provided for by the constitution. The courts of record in Nigeria are those courts that are established by the Nigerian constitution for Federal Capital Territory, State and Federation.

List Of  Judicial System In Nigeria:

The Judicial System In Nigeria are independent and they have the purpose of interpreting the law, protecting people’s rights, resolving disputes and enforcing laws.

They act as the bridle for government to prevent the latter from engaging in power abuse. They help prevent liberty infringement and thereby check government excesses.

The recognized Judicial System In Nigeria in Nigeria are highlighted below:

• The Supreme Court
• The Court Of Appeal
• The Federal High Court
• The High Court Of States
• The High Court Of Federal Capital Territory
• The Sharia Court
• The Customary Court Of Appeal
• The Sharia And Customary Courts Of Appeal
• The Magistrate Court

1. Magistrates’/District Courts
Each district in Nigeria has one court that acts as both a Magistrates Court (when the judge is presiding over a criminal case) and a District Court (when the judge is presiding over a civil case). It is regarded as a court of inferior jurisdiction for the following reasons:
  • It is not listed among the courts in the Nigerian Constitution.
  • It cannot punish contempt of court ex facie curiae (that is, contempt committed outside the court).
Magistrates’ Courts and District Courts are bound by decisions of the higher courts, but their own decisions do not bind any court, and they are not bound by their own previous decisions.
2. High Courts/Sharia Court of Appeal/Customary Court of Appeal

Directly above the Magistrates’/District Courts are the High Courts, the Customary Court of Appeal and the Sharia Court of Appeal. Under the Nigerian Constitution, the High Courts consist of the:

  • Federal High Court.
  • State High Court.
  • High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

The State High Court has the widest jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. The High Courts have appellate jurisdiction over decisions of Magistrates’ Courts and District Courts.

The Sharia Court of Appeal hears appeals on matters of citizens that concern Islamic personal rights, and the Customary Court of Appeal hears appeals concerning civil proceedings that relate to customary law.

The Customary and Sharia Courts of Appeal are not bound by judicial precedent as they are not of common law origin.

The High Courts are referred to as courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction and they are not explicitly bound by previous decisions of another High Court.
At best, the decision of a High Court is persuasive on another High Court. However, it is not usual for a High Court to depart from another High Court’s decision, except where there is good cause to do so.

A State High Court (unlike the Federal High Court) has wider jurisdiction and where it makes a decision on a matter of federal application, it binds all inferior courts in the country.

However, where it makes a decision on matters of state application, it only binds courts of inferior jurisdiction in the applicable state.

3. Court of Appeal

Directly above the High Courts is the Court of Appeal. There is only one Court of Appeal in Nigeria, but it has a number of divisions across the country.

The Court of Appeal is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court. In civil matters, when dealing with a decision of the Court of Appeal in another division, the Court of Appeal is bound to a certain extent by that decision.

However, in criminal matters, the Court of Appeal is not bound to follow the decisions of other divisions of the Court of Appeal, as each criminal case must be treated on its own merits (strictly following a previous decision in a different case could cause irreparable damage).
4. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in Nigeria and its decisions are final and binding on all other courts throughout the country. The Supreme Court is not bound by the previous decisions of any other court.

However, it follows its own previous decisions to maintain certainty and uniformity in the administration of justice. The Supreme Court can, however, choose to depart from its own previous decisions.

Functions Of Lawyers Or Attorneys:

Lawyers or attorneys are individuals that have been trained in the Nigerian laws and they act as representatives for their clients during lawsuits.

The attorney is bound to act within the ambit of the law to provide all possible services to his/her client, no matter the severity of the case brought against him or the type of case he is filing against someone else.

The client should see the attorney as a confidant and the attorney is bound by professional ethics to keep everything the client reveals to him/her as secret.

Everyone ever charged with any crime has right to an attorney, according to the Nigerian law. The effort of the Nigerian courts to proffer solution to various legal issues in the country is however effecting certain evolutions and changes in the Nigerian legal system.


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