THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA
Nigeria operates a federal political structure under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. The Federation consists of 36 (thirty six) States and a Federal Capital Territory. This constitution vests the legislative, executive and judicial powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the National Assembly, the Executive and the courts established there under respectively. The powers of the States are vested in similar organs, except that the legislative organ of the States is known as the House of Assembly. By virtue of Section 6 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 the following courts are established in the Federal Republic of Nigeria: 1. The Supreme Court of Nigeria; the Court of Appeal; the Federal High Court; the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; a High Court of a State; the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and a Customary Court of Appeal of a State The courts established by the Constitution are the only superior courts of record in Nigeria. The Constitution empowers the National Assembly and the Houses of Assembly to establish courts with subordinate jurisdiction to the High Courts. Courts established pursuant to the Constitution are invariably inferior courts of record notwithstanding the status of the officer presiding in the courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court and all decisions from the court are binding on all other courts. In Nigeria, the state court structure dovetails into the federal court structure at the level of the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal entertains appeals from the decisions of the High Courts, the Sharia Courts of Appeal and the Customary Courts of Appeal. Appeals from the decisions of the Court of Appeal go to the Supreme Court. In effect the Supreme Court is not only a Supreme Court on federal matters, it is also the final court in respect of state laws. However, in terms of administrative responsibility, State High Courts are the most important courts in each state. This assertion is strengthened because whereas the Constitution has established a High Court for each State directly, each state has an option to establish a Sharia Court of Appeal or a Customary Court of Appeal. The inferior courts which are established pursuant to constitutional provisions include Magistrate Courts, District Courts, Area/Sharia Courts, and Customary Courts. By and large these courts are established by State Laws, except for the Federal Capital Territory and the judicial hierarchy and the nomenclatures of inferior courts are dissimilar. The High Courts and other specialized courts exercise supervisory and appellate jurisdiction over the inferior courts. THE PROBLEMS FACING THE NIGERIA JUDICIARY SYSTEM
There is no doubt that the Nigerian judiciary is plagued by a myriad of problems ranging from institutional to personnel problems, poor facilities to inadequate financial provisions and procedural to constitutional problems. However, we won’t just focus on these major problems facing the judiciary but also give suggestions for their reforms.
* Institutional weaknesses
The institutional framework of the judiciary is constitutionally prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Apart from the structure and hierarchy of the courts the Constitution also establishes institutional bodies for regulation of the activities and welfare of judicial officers in the country. These bodies are the National Judicial Council (NJC), Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), Judicial Service Commission of the Federal Capital Territory and State Judicial Service Commissions. The NJC is the primary organ for the regulation and supervision of the activities of judicial officers in Nigeria and the inherent...