While the Legislature is responsible for making laws and the Executive is charged
with the imple- mentation of such law, the Judiciary is responsible for the
interpretation of the law in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
In line with the doctrine of separation of powers, which is a cardinal feature
of a democratic system, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the independence
of the Judiciary.
The Constrtution provides for Federal and State Courts, as well as Election
Tribunals. At the apex of the Judiciary is the Supreme Court.
The other Federal Courts are:
- The Court of Appeal
- The Federal High Court
- The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
- The Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capita! Territory, Abuja.
- The Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory.
» The State Courts are:
- The High Court
- The Sharia Court of Appeal
- The Customary Court of Appeal
The Election Tribunals are:
The National Assembly Election Tribunals
The Govemorship and Legislative Houses Election Tribunals
In addition to the Courts and Tribunals established by the Constitution, there
are other court and tribunals created by Federal or State laws. These include:
Magistrate Courts, Area Courts, Sharia Courts and Customary Courts.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief
Judge of the Federal
High Court and the Chief Judge of the High Court of
the Federa! Territory, Abuja are all appointed by the
President on the advice of the National Judicial
Council subject to the consent of the Senate.
The President also appoints the Grand Kadi of
the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja and the President of the Customary
Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory,
Abuja in the same manner as friose of the other
Federal Courts. All other judicial appointments to
the Federal Courts are made by the President on
the advice of the National Judicial Council.
Governors appoint the Chief Judges of the States,
the Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal and
the President of the Customary Court of Appeal, in
those States where those courts exist, on the
advice of the National Judicial Council and the
State House of Assembly. All other judicial appoint-
ments to State Courts are made by the Governor of
the State on the advice of the National Judicial
The Supreme Court, the highest court of lhe
land, has both original and appellate jurisdictions.
The Court has exclusive original jurisdiction in any
justiciable dispute between the Federaitlon and a
State or between States. The Court also has exclu-
sive jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from
the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is duly
constituted if not less than five Justices of the Court
hear the matter. However, where the court is con-
sidering an appeal on a constitutional matter or
exercising its original jurisdiction, seven Justices
shall constitute the Court
The Court of Appeal has exclusive original
jurisdiction to determine any question in respect of
the election, term of office or vacancy in frie office
of the President or Vice-President. The Court has
exclusive appellate jurisdiction to hear and deter-
mine appeals from all Federal Courts and State
Courts established by the Constitution, decisions of
all Election Tribunals, Code of Conduct Tribunal,
court marshals or other tribunals as may be pre-
scribed by the National Assembly.
The Court of Appeal is duly constituted by at
least three Justices of the Court. However, when if
is considering appeals from a Sharia Court of
Appeal or a Customary Court of Appeal, the Court
must consist of at least three Justices of the Court
learned in Islamic Personal Law or three Justices of
the Court learned in Customary law respectively.
The Federal High Court has exclusive original
jurisdiction in respect of matters involving the revenue of the Federal Government
and or its agencies, taxation of companies, admiralty, customs,
companies affairs, banking regulation, intellectual
property, citizenship and immigration, bankruptcy
and insolvency, aviation, drug and poisons, weights
and measures, mines and minerals, including oil
and gas and any action involving the Federal Government or any of its agencies.
The Court also has criminal jurisdiction in respect of treason, treasonable
felony and allied offenses and also in
respect of criminal causes and matters in which it
has civil jurisdiction.
A Judge of the Court seating constitutes the
courts. Divisions of the court are situated in various
parts of the country.
The State High Courts have unlimited jurisdiction in their respective states
to hear and determine
civil and criminal matters subject to the exclusive
jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court in
respect of specified matters. They are also
empowered to exercise appellate or supervisory
jurisdiction over lower courts in their respective
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory,
Abuja, has similar jurisdiction in the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja, as the State High Court has in a
State. State High Courts and the High Court of the
Federal Territory are duly constituted by a single
Judge of the court seating.
The Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal
Capita! Territory, Abuja, and the Sharia Court of
Appeal of a State have appellate and supervisory
jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions
of Islamic personal law in their respective jurisdictions. These Courts are
duly constituted with three
Khadis of the Courts sitting.
The Customary Court of Appeal of the
Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and the Customary
Court of Appeal of a State have appellate and
supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involv-
ing questions of customary taw in their respective
In addition to the courts established by the Constitution, there exist Magistrate,
Area and Customary Courts which are established by the National Assembly
in respect of the Federal Capita! Territory, Abuja and the State House of Assembly
in respect of a State. These courts have limited civil and criminal jurisdiction
conferred on them by their respective enabling law.