Types Of Courts In Nigeria And Their Functions
All the courts or better put chamber of justice have recognized authority depending on the types of courts in Nigeria. Citizens are to obey justice, which is carried out under the same conditions for people with different social status and wealth. There is no room for emotions, feelings and personal preferences when it comes to justice, especially considering the fact that it is against the law to abuse or misuse legal authority and power. The purpose and essence of Nigerian courts are to establish justice for the well-being of the people.
This article will provide insight and vivid information on the different types of courts in Nigeria. In Nigeria, there are eight types of courts and each of them performs specific and distinct functions. Also, there is a lucent existence of hierarchy amongst them.
TYPES OF COURTS IN NIGERIA
1. THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
The Supreme Court is the first type of court in Nigeria and the highest Nigerian Court. Established in 1963 and became effective on October 1, 1963, prior to the enunciation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 1960 Constitution. Also, it succeeded the Section 120 which was canceled, which back then call off the appellate jurisdiction of the Privy Council judicial committee, which was the highest court in Nigeria.
Section 230 of the 1999 Constitution is the backbone of the court. According to this constitutional provision, the court will be made up of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and 21 (twenty-one) judges at all times (every sitting). Actually, the decision of the court on any subject matter is binding and final without any form of a retrial.
Of course, this excludes the powers of the Governor of a state or the President of the country as they have the autonomy to delay or deliver any person condemned of an offense under any law in Nigeria. Furthermore, by legislation, the Supreme court may be canceled and the Supreme Court can even nullify itself.
The Supreme Court is located in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. It has the highest and most important jurisdiction in the country. Therefore, this means that no appeal can be heard regarding matters decided and concluded by the supreme court before any other Nigerian court.
In general, the Supreme Court presided over matters or any controversy between the Federation and the State or between States. In addition, the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction and power to the exclusion of any other court to determine and hear any proclamation made by the Court of Appeal.
2. THE COURT OF APPEAL
The Court of Appeal is the next one on the types of Nigerian courts and is situated in Abuja only, just like the Supreme Court. Established by Section 237 of the 1999 Constitution and headed by the President of the Court of Appeal, it comprises of 49 (forty-nine) judges at all times (every hearing).
The function and jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal are to hear and decide on any issue arising as to whether an individual has been validly voted to the office of Governor or Deputy Governor, the President or Vice-President in Nigeria. The Court of Appeal discharge its duties and appeals for the:
- The High Court of a State;
- The Federal High Court;
- The Customary Court of Appeal of a State;
- The Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory;
- The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory;
- The Court-Martial;
- The Sharia Court of Appeal of a State, and
- Any other Tribunal.
The Court of Appeal is also possessed similar attributes to the Supreme Court incomplete and non-reversal of the decision on appeal arising from the resolutions of the State and National Houses of Assembly election petitions and also, on the appeal coming from any civil jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court.
3. THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
The Federal High Court unlike the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal is divided into several judicial divisions for easy administrative duties convenience and it is located in over 15 States in Nigeria. The existence of the Federal High Court is provided in the 1999 constitution under section 249 of 1999.
The Chief Judge is the head of the Federal High Court and the number of judges allowed for a hearing may be preassigned by an Act of the National Assembly. The jurisdiction and function of the Federal High Court originally are in civil cases, and matters as set out under Section 251 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.
It is imperative to note that the Federal High Court also has the appellate jurisdiction and all the powers of the High Courts of a State. This court divides the co-existence jurisdiction and functions of the State High Court in questions involving and regarding the interpretation or application of the constitution, banker-customer relationship, and fundamental human rights enforcement cases.
4. THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY & STATE HIGH COURT
The existence of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory is backed by section 255 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the ascertainment of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja while section 270 provides for the ascertainment of a High Court for each State of the Federation.
So, then the Chief Judge is the head of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory and the State High Court particularly. The number of Judges they contain is provided by the State House of Assembly (in respect of the High Court of a State) or an Act of National Assembly (in respect of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja). Under the 1999 Constitution, the High Court has the largest jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases and also the appellant function and jurisdiction over decisions of Customary Courts, Area Courts, Magistrate Courts, etc.
5. THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT
National Industrial Court, it is established by Section 254A of the 1999 Constitution and it is headed by the President of the National Industrial Court and the number of Judges contained depends on the prescription provided by an Act of the National Assembly.
Similar to the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court is divided into several judicial divisions for administrative convenience scattered in several states in Nigeria. The National Industrial Court functions include the jurisdiction in civil cases and grounds that are set out in Section 254C of the 1999 Constitution. It has all the powers of the High Court of a State and the appellate jurisdiction.
6. THE SHARIA COURT OF APPEAL
Establishment of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is provided in Section 260 of the 1999 Constitution while Section 275 provides for a dispensable establishment of a Sharia Court of Appeal for any State in Nigeria.
Importantly, the Grand Kadi is the head of the court and it contains a number of Kadis prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly for Sharia Court of Appeal situated in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the House of Assembly of a State for a State Sharia Court of Appeal. The function of both courts is to exercise the supervisory and appellate jurisdiction in civil cases involving issues of the Islamic personal law.
7. THE CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL
Under section 265 of the 1999 Constitution and caters of the FCT, the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory was established while Section 280 provides for the essential establishment of the Customary Court of Appeal for any State said to be in Nigeria.
Generally, the two courts are led or headed by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal and the number of judges it contains is as defined and provided by the National Assembly for the FCT, Abuja and also the House of Assembly for any State that claims it. Importantly, both courts function and exercise the supervisory and appellate jurisdiction in civil cases involving issues of the customary law.
8. MAGISTRATE COURTS AND DISTRICT COURTS
The last on our list is of types of court in Nigeria is the Magistrate Courts and the District Courts are not provided for in the 1999 Constitution but are established by the law of the House of Assembly of a State. The Magistrate Court judicial functions as a court of summary judgment as grounds are defined in this court without briefs or pleadings filed by the parties.
BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT IN NIGERIA
In fact, Nigeria courts are prominent and vastly recognized as the hallowed chambers of jurisdiction, where plain and candid justice is measured to all parties or persons, without favoritism, sentiment, emotion, or being unnecessarily involved in crass legalism. What is more, we do not only have courts of law but courts of equity as well.
The government is divided into 3 branches in accordance with the state Constitution, these are
- Judicial and
NB: Judicial powers are held and enforced by the courts; they exercise jurisdiction of the first instance and on appeals in all proceedings and actions relating to matters between authority/government, or between people and any person in Nigeria. The court is also aimed at defining any question as to the civil rights and duties of an individual.
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CONCLUSION ON THE TYPES OF COURTS IN NIGERIA
Here you have the different types of courts in Nigeria and their unique functions and activities including the head of each court. It is important that every nation including Nigeria have courts so as to ensure the making and enacting of laws in the country by citizens of every cadre and status.
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