Jurisdiction of Selected Tribunals in Nigeria

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JURISDICTION OF SELECTED TRIBUNALS IN NIGERIA
INTRODUCTION
This work will be divided into various parts. We shall explore the various meanings of the word jurisdiction. Broad types of tribunals shall be briefly mentioned. We shall then select five Tribunals whose jurisdiction we shall later look into in details. We shall attempt examining the reasons behind the creation of our selected Tribunals. The reason for denying ordinary courts jurisdiction shall be looked into. We shall, after examining the composition of the various tribunals selected, try to see whether the advantage of specialization was achieved.

Jurisdiction is derived from the Latin word “juris” and “dico” and literally means “I speak by the law”.1 The word jurisdiction implies a court or tribunal with judicial power to hear and determine a case and such tribunal cannot exist except by authority of law.2 Jurisdiction always emanates directly and immediately from the law. It is a power which nobody on whom the law has not conferred it can exercise.3 As sometimes used, it means power, authority, power over the particular “res” or subject.4

The word is frequently used however as meaning authority to do the particular thing done, or conversely a want of jurisdiction frequently means a want of authority to exercise in a particular manner a power which a board or tribunal has, the doing of something in excess of the power possessed.5

Looked at another way, one may say that jurisdiction is a matter of power and covers wrong as well as right decisions or rightfully or wrongfully and does not depend on the correctness of the decision made.6 Also, in a broad and general sense, jurisdiction is judicial power and fundamentally, the term means the power or capacity given by law to a court or other body or officer to hear and determine certain controversies.7

There are various types of Tribunals. For instance we have:
(a)“Strong Policy Element Tribunals”
(b)Pseudo-Courts” and
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(c) “Court Substitute Type Tribunal”.
It has been argued that courts are generally too expensive, too formal, too technical in procedure, lacks expertise and that there is also doctrinal lack of policy consciousness on the part of the courts.8 Also, it has been said that the difference between court-substitute type Tribunal and the Regular Courts are their cheapness; their speed and efficiency, their privacy and their informality.9

In choosing the jurisdiction of Tribunals to examine in this paper, we are guided by convenience. All our tribunals show a common parentage in being creations of the military at different times in response to perceived problems facing the nation. In this paper, we shall be examining the jurisdiction of:

(a) Recovery of public property Special Military Tribunal;10 (b) Tribunal constituted under Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act;11
(c) Miscellaneous Offenses Tribunal;12
(d) Tribunal constituted under Exchange Control (Anti-Sabotage) Act;13 and
(e) Special Appeal Tribunal.14
The aim of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunal) Act was to make provisions for the investigation of the assets of any public officer who is alleged to have been engaged in corrupt practices, unjust enrichment of himself or any other person who has abused his office or has in any way breached the code of conduct for public officers contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.15

The need arose because of the high level of corruption and abuse of office by the Second Republic politicians and public servants. The aim of the law setting up the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal was to make comprehensive provisions for matters relating to armed robbery.16 This was necessitated by the spate of armed robbery that greeted the cessation of the civil war in 1970.

Similarly, the aim of Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offenses) Act was to create a number of miscellaneous offenses with stiff penalties and 2 | P a g e
also to establish a...
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