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Nigerian Legal System

Nigerian Legal System

The law of Nigeria is based on the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and British common law (due to the long history of British colonial influence). The common law in the legal system is similar to common-law systems used in England and Wales and other Commonwealth countries. The constitutional framework for the legal system is provided by the Constitution of Nigeria.

  • English Law, which is derived from its colonial past with Britain;
  • Common law, case law development since colonial independence;
  • Customary law, which is derived from indigenous traditional norms and practices;
  • Sharia law, law used in some states in the northern region.

There is a judicial branch, with the Supreme Court regarded as the highest court of the Nation.

Legislation as a source of Nigerian law

The two fundamental sources of Nigerian law through legislation are:

(1) Acts of British parliament, popularly referred to as statutes of general application.

(2) Local legislation (comprising enactments of the Nigerian legislatures from colonial period to date). There were other sources which though subsumed in Nigerian legislations were distinctly imported into the Nigerian legal systems. They are called the criminal and penal codes of Nigeria..

Nigerian statutes as sources of Nigerian law

Nigerian legislation may be classified as follows. The colonial era until 1960 , post independence legislation 1960-1966 , the military era 1966-1999.

The post independence legislation 1960-1966

The grant of independence to Nigeria was a milestone in the political history of the country. This period witnessed the consolidation of political gains made during the colonial era. Politicians genuinely focused their lapses in the polity. It achieved for herself a republican status by shaking off the last vestiges of colonial authority. However, despite the violent violation of its provisions, the constitution remained the subsequent administrations (military or otherwise).

Military regime, 1966-1999

The breakdown of law and order which occurred in the period under review would not be attributed to any defect in the Nigerian legal system. Corrupt practices both in the body politic and all aspects of Nigerian life eroded efficiency and progress. There were 8 coups generally five were successful and 3 were unsuccessful.

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