A Critical Study of the Exercise of Jurisdiction of Customary Courts in the Nigeria Legal System



This paper discusses strictly the concept of jurisdiction, and its incidents. It educates us on the nature, meaning and importance of the jurisdiction of courts generally, with special reference to the customary courts in Nigeria. Many States in Nigeria operate the customary court system, and some even have Customary Courts of Appeal which entertains appeals from the customary courts in their respective States. This paper examined the indices of a court’s competence by using the customary court as a practical example. This no doubt, is very interesting and helps us understand deeply what the concept of jurisdiction is all about, for a court that has no jurisdiction lacks competence to hear a Suit or Matter. Territorial and substantive jurisdictionjurisdiction and judicial powers were clearly defined and distinguished. The roles of the Customary Courts of Appeal (as a Court of Superior Record under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) were clearly spelt out. Customary Courts of Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu States had their jurisdiction and Matters that can be brought under them practically illustrated as examples in this paper, and suggestions as regards the judicial powers and jurisdiction of the customary courts were made in this paper to help improve the customary courts system in Nigeria.

Keywords : Jurisdiction, competence, customary courts, customary Court of Appeal of a State, members, president of customary court, Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Land Use Act, judicial powers, unlimited, Causes, Matters.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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