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APPRAISAL OF NIGERIA LEGAL SYSTEM

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: APPRAISAL OF NIGERIA LEGAL SYSTEM
: Chapter 1 – 5
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RESEARCH BODY

ABSTRACT

Nigeria came into independence by the British with a well-established legal system that included a court system and a thriving legal profession in the British tradition. Laws, rules and regulations governing a nation helps put in order and to protect lives and human activities.

The Nigerian legal system is very complex because of legal pluralism. Legal pluralism simply means the existence of multiple legal systems within one geographic area. The Constitution of Nigeria is the supreme law of the country and there are four distinct legal systems in Nigeria, which include: English lawCommon lawCustomary law, and Sharia (Islamic) Law.

In Nigeria, different laws govern different groups within a location and they are recognized. The Nigerian legal system is based on English law which is derived from the colonial Nigeria, while common law is a development from its post-colonial independence. Customary law is derived from indigenous traditional norms and practices, including the dispute resolution meetings of pre-colonial Yorubaland secret societies and the Èkpè and Okónkò of Igboland and Ibibioland. Sharia Law (also known as Islamic Law) is used only in Northern Nigeria, where Islam is the predominant religion. The judicial system is also a part and they operate at various levels which also involves non-parallel powers between the Federal and State level.

Therefore, this paper seeks to understand the fundamental purpose of the Nigerian Legal System in the light of its beginning, effectiveness, development and lacunae needed to be fixed.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

1.0       INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

1.2.      OBJECTIVES OF THIS STUDY

1.3.      FOCUS OF THE STUDY

1.4.      SCOPE OF THE STUDY

1.5       METHODOLOGY

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0       EVOLUTION OF LAW

2.1       Law and morality

2.2       Types of laws

2.2.1    Eternal law:

2.2.2    Divine law:

2.2.3    Natural law

2.2.4    Human or positive Law

2.3       CLASSIFICATION OF LAW

2.3.1    Civil law and Criminal law

2.3.2    Civil law and Common law

2.3.2    Private law and public law

2.3.4    Written and unwritten law

2.3.5    Municipal law and International Law

2.3.6    Duties of Law

2.3.7    Features of the law

2.4      THE EVOLUTION AND RECEPTION OF ENGLISH LAW IN NIGERIA

2.4.1   History of the Nigerian law

2.4.2   The contents of the English law that was introduced

2.4.3 TECHNIQUE OF RECEPTION OF ENGLISH LAW

CHAPTER THREE

3.0       NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

3.1      Introducing Nigeria

3.2       Essence of legal system

3.3       Features and sources of Nigerian Legal System

3.1.1  THE SUPREME COURT

3.1.2 COURT OF APPEAL

3.1.3 FEDERAL HIGH COURT

3.1.4 STATE HIGH COURT

3.1.5 SHARIA AND CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL

3.1.6 MAGISTRATE COURTS

3.1.7 ELECTION TRIBUNALS

3.3.1 WHAT IS CRIMINAL PROCEDURE?

3.3.2 THE CRIMINAL CODE AND PENAL CODE

3.4 UNDERSTANDING NIGERIAN COLONIAL LEGAL HERITAGE

3.4.1 Using historical school idealism

3.4.2 RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC PLURALISM IN NIGERIA

3.4.3 SHARIA LAW AND THE IMPLICATION OF SHARIA IN NOTHERN NIGERIA

CHAPTER FOUR

CONSTITUTION AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY

4.0INTRODUCTION

4.1 MEANING OF THE CONSTITUTION

4.1.1 THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION

4.1.2 RIGID AND FLEXIBLE CONSTITUTIONS

4.1.3 CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA

4.1.4 DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA

4.2 JUDICIARY AND DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA

4.2.1 THE EMERGING POSTURE OF THE JUDICIARY FOR DEMOCRACY

4.2.2 THE ROLE OF JUDGES IN A DEMOCRATIC NIGERIA

4.2.3 THE SEPARATION OF POWERS IN NIGERIA

4.2.4 THE METHODS OF JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES

4.2.4.1 ADJUDICATORY METHOD

4.2.4.2 NON-ADJUDICATORY METHOD

4.2.5 THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA)

CHAPTER FIVE

5.0   CONCLUSION

CHAPTER ONE

1.0       INTRODUCTION

Nigeria has a well-developed legal system, partially inherited from its colonial past, with English common law forming the basis, combined with traditional customary and Islamic law in the realm of marriage and succession.

Nigeria like other country is governed by legislation, rules and principles, all aimed at establishing and sustaining an orderly Nigerian society. The Nigerian legal system connotes the laws, courts, personnel of the law and the administrative of Justice System. It is however, pertinent at this juncture, having looked at the meaning of Nigerian legal system, to study the various sources of what is today referred to us as Nigerian law. But the expression “sources of Nigerian Law” is capable of bearing several meanings depending on the context in which it is used. It could mean either the starting point of Nigerian law or the place from which the law can be got, i.e, the literal or material source, the historical sources, the formal sources or the legal sources of a rule of law[1].

The Nigerian legal system is designed largely by our Colonial Masters namely; Britain. Prior to the amalgamation by Lord Lugard in 1914, there existed three distinct administrations in the geopolitical entity that is today known as Nigeria. By virtue of Section 6 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, the following courts were established in the Federal Republic of Nigeria: 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; a Customary Court of Appeal of a State.[2]

The Nigerian legal system is based on the English common law legal tradition. The sources of Nigerian law are: The Constitution, Legislation, English law, Customary law, Islamic law and Judicial precedents. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which came into operation on May 29, 1999, regulates the distribution of legislative business between the National Assembly, which has power to make laws for the Federation and the House of Assembly for each of the 36 states that make up the Federation.

The law of Nigeria consists of courts, offences, and various types of laws. Nigeria has its own constitution which was established on 29th of May 1999. The Nigerian constitution recognizes courts as either Federal or State courts. A primary difference between both is that the President appoints Justices/Judges to federal courts, while State Governors appoint Judges to state courts. All appointments (federal or state) are based on the recommendations of the National Judicial Council.

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Law is fundamental and governs virtually all practices that involve life and humanity. The major interest is that lives, properties and rights be established for everyone and Nigerian law is one. Nigerian law is classified under common law system. This law is made by the legislature i.e. parliament or by delegated authority. They have the power to make laws in order to maintain order. By virtue of legislation, the success of the Government has been affected positively the more. The laws are written in codes and they have their origins from custom law which are mostly unwritten common laws.[3]

Dated back from the pre-colonial rule, customs, morals and laws have been made in order to maintain order. The rule by the Britain introduced the English law and which has been the major dominant and primary law. There have been some development overtime with the establishment of English law and the alongside customary laws. The presence of various ethnic groups had influenced the legal system.[4]

The traditional classification of customary law is divided into Ethnic/Non-Moslem and Moslem law/ Sharia. In the states in the Southern part of the country, Moslem/Islamic law, where it exists, is integrated into and has always been treated as an aspect of the customary law. Since 1956, however, Islamic law has been administered in the Northern states as a separate and distinct system. Customary law is usually enforced in customary courts, presided over by non-legally trained personnel. The bulk of causes on the Cause List of customary courts, especially in South Western Nigeria, are matters relating to the dissolution of traditional marriages. Islamic law, unlike ethnic customary law, is written. Its principles are clearly defined and articulated. This system of law is based on the Holy Koran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Islamic law is being enforced in some states in the Northern part of Nigeria especially where populations are predominantly Moslem.

The Nigerian Legal system operates both on a federal and state level. At the federal level, the current legislation in force is largely contained in the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 (LFN). Federal laws enacted under previous military administrations, known as Decrees, and state laws, known as Edicts, form the bulk the primary legislation. Each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja has its own laws. Some states have in recent times undertaken law revision exercises to present their laws in a compact and comprehensive form to guarantee easy access.[5]

The court system also has its hierarchy and has been developed over time. The Supreme Court is the highest court in Nigeria. It replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1963 as the final court of appeal. The Court of Appeal was established in 1976 as a national penultimate court to entertain appeals from the High Courts, which are the trial courts of general jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal sits in 10 Judicial Divisions scattered throughout the country but is still a single court and is ordinarily bound by its own decisions. The Court of Appeal and all lower courts are bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court. The High Courts and other courts of coordinate and subordinate jurisdiction are equally bound by the decisions of the Court of Appeal. The doctrine of judicial precedents does not apply rigidly to certain courts like the customary/area courts and the Sharia courts in Nigeria.

1.2.      OBJECTIVES OF THIS STUDY

The overall view of this study is to appreciate the Nigerian Legal system in relation to its development over time with focus on the legislative and judicial system, the advancement and the void still needed to be filled.

1.3.      FOCUS OF THE STUDY

In order to meet the broad objectives of this study, I will focus on the following specific objectives:

  • To critically study the historical background of how the Nigerian Legal system came in to be and the influences around it from the inception till now.
  • Highlight the challenges facing the Nigerian Legal system and possibly proffer solutions.

1.4. SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study covers from the pre- colonial period to this present day. The pre-colonial and time from the colonial era really gives the basic fundamental principles as regards the emergence of the Nigerian Legal system and hence, the need to focus.

 1.5      METHODOLOGY

The system of method followed in this study is to make use of data such as resource materials from the internet, textbooks, law journals, newspapers and law reports.

[1]John OhireimeAsein, “Introduction to Nigerian Legal System, Ibadan, Sam Bookman Publishers”, (1998).

[2]Sanni, A.O., “Introduction to Nigerian Legal Method, Ile-Ife, Kuntel Publishing House”, (1999).

[3]EseMalemi, “Outline of Nigerian Legal System, Lagos, Grace Publisher Inc.”, (1989).

[4]APRM Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR) – Executive Summary – NEPAD Nigeria, (2008).

[5]Jimmy Chijioke, “The Eggheads Business and Co-operative Law Study Pack, Abuja”, (1998).

Keywords: APPRAISAL OF NIGERIA LEGAL SYSTEM


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