25 J.L. Pol'y & Globalization 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/jawpglob25 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization                                                   www.iiste.org
ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper) ISSN 2224-3259 (Online)
Vol.25, 2014                                                                                     11STE


  The Nature, Types and Jurisdiction of Customary Courts in The
                                  Nigeria Legal System


                                  CHIGOZIE NWAGBARA, LL.M
                         LAW AUTHOR & LECTURER, FACULTY OF LAW,
                   NIGERIA POLICE ACADEMY, WUDIL, KANO STATE, NIGERIA
                            Email: hichibaby@yahoocol, +2348033335091
ABSTRACT
This paper discusses the nature, types and jurisdiction of Customary Courts in the Nigeria legal System. It gives
us an insight into the historical background and development of customary Courts in Nigeria, which started with
the Native Courts before the arrival of the colonial legal system. It also talks about the modern position on
establishment and constitution of customary courts which powers are derived from the 1999 Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria, even though they are described by section 6 of the 1999 Constitution as Inferior
Courts of Record for the fact that the Constitution empowers the State Houses of Assembly to create them. The
nature and judicial functions of the Customary Courts are discussed in full details in this paper, and a notable
feature of the customary courts in the exercise of their judicial functions is that they do not apply the Evidence
Act and other statutory laws unless authorized by Law as we will see in full details of this paper. The customary
Courts ensure quick dispensation of justice without recourse to the rigours and technicalities of the common law.
The composition and quorum, appointment of members, tenure of office of a member, dismissal of members,
immunity of members of this court are fully explained in this paper. Special reference is made to a large extent in
this paper to Lagos and Enugu States of Nigeria. The types of customary courts with their various jurisdiction
over issues are also listed and discussed. Lastly, it is recommended that the concept of tenure for members of
customary courts should be done away with in Nigeria, while permanent and pensionable roles be assigned to
them.
Keywords: Customary Court, Jurisdiction, Members of customary Court, S.H Makeri,
             President of the Customary Court, 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of
             Nigeria, Native Courts, Area Courts, Sharia Court, historical development,
             Nature, judicial function, appointment, tenure, dismissal, immunity, appeal.

                     Brief Historical Development of Customary Courts in Nigeria1

Customary Courts had their origin in Native Courts. Before the arrival of the colonial legal system, there was
already in operation a system of Law in Nigeria. In 1900, the colonial legal system in Nigeria permitted natives
of the colony of Lagos and its protectorates to operate their native law and custom as far as they were not
repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience, and also not incompatible with the relevant statutes.
While natives were allowed to administer their own native laws and customs, special arrangements were made
under traditional leaders to ensure that dispute involving natives and non-natives were referred to the Governor.
A clear distinction was drawn as to who was a native and non-native for administrative purposes. But because
there were glaring injustices found in the native courts, the colonial Administrators had to bring the native courts
within statutory ambit to ensure a greater measure of surveillance or supervision. In 1906, therefore, the Native
Courts Proclamation was made and it provided for a dual system of Native Courts namely 'minor courts' and
'native courts'. Each category of court had its defined limits and could hear both civil and criminal cases
between natives and non-natives. The same 1906Northern Nigeria was occupied by the British who introduced
the Native Courts Proclamation that reviewed the Native Courts in Northern Nigeria.

With the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria on I January 1914, the Native Court Ordinance 1915-
1918 ushered in a system which was consistent with, and enhanced the amalgamated political structure. By these
enactments, Warrant Native Courts were established by Residents subject to the Governor's approval and were
graded with varying powers and jurisdiction.

I THE JUDICIARY AND THE CHALLENGES OF NATION BUILDING - A PAPER DELIVERED BY HON. JUSTICE S.H
MAKERI,
  PRESIDENT OF CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL, KADUNA STATE AT THE ALL NIGERIA JUDGES CONFERENCE
(5th -
  th
  9 thNovember, 2007)

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