ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN NIGERIAN COURTS: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
The topic “ Administration of justice in Nigerian courts, problems and prospects” seems to attract to itself the attention and inquisitiveness on the part of the common man or every believer in the Rule of law of what the writer is talking about or what he is going to upon since the mere mention of justice in our society today raises a conjecture and thereafter suffers from universally acceptable definition.
An attempt is made in this essay to scrutinize what hampers the judicial powers vested in the courts under section 6(6)(b) of 1999 constitution which it is said shall extend to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.
Also considered in the essay are the ‘defects’ in and/ or ‘injustices’ written into the substantive law. For instance the ouster of court’s jurisdiction, the down payment or deposit of a substantial amount of money paid into a court before a challenge to chieftaincy dispute is entertained, discrimination on the grounds of protection to the public officers of the state and the adoption of foreign culture and archaic statutes that were largely meant to nurture a colonial society among others are written into or found in the basic law of the state , then it is not possible to talk of justice under such a system. Sometimes a system fails because of procedural defects and inadequacies. When there exists structural injustice in the location of courts (for instance a poor litigant resides share, Kwara state and the Supreme courts is located in Abuja) and there is imbalance in the distribution of wealth in the society, there, the law is easily seen as instrument of oppression and a protection of the status quo.
The above issues and some other interesting topics like the role or the part played by some agencies like the police, the Bar and the prison in the prosecution of cases will be considered in this essay and provide an avenue for the assessment of their performance in the administration of justice.
The independence of the judiciary is not left untouched as it is a necessary adjunct to the proper administration of justice.
The essay finally attempts to offer some useful suggestions and recommendations to arrest the ills plaguing our society today, as some stemmed from both internal and global structural ‘injustices’. However the essay is not claiming to be exhaustive.
As an introduction it is worthy of note that this project centers upon the “Administration of Justice in Nigerian Courts, Problems and Prospects”. The Nigerian political history dated back to the pre-colonial era. The various ethnic groups had one form or system of political and judicial set up that were distinct and peculiar to each ethnic group.