Judiciary | Functions & Structure of Nigeria Judiciary

The judiciary is one of the organs or branches of government whose primary function or task is the discovery of the facts, the interpretation and application of laws, as well as the constitution in cases of disputes between or among individuals in the state. The members of the judiciary are the Bar Association, comprising of lawyers and the bench, as well as Magistrates and Judges.

The relationship between the judiciary and other branches of government varies from state to state. Judiciary is seen as the legal institution that protects the interest of the citizens in the state especially the law courts.


Interpretation of the law:

It is the function of the judiciary to see that the laws made by the judiciary are properly interpreted. Through the judicial interpretation of the law, it will be possible for the ignorant to understand the law and be able to obey the law of the state.

Punishment of the offenders:

One of the primary functions of the judiciary is to punish those who violate the law. If a person breaks the law he will be prosecuted in the law court and if found guilty, will be punished accordingly.

Enforcing the judicial process:

The judiciary employs various means of enforcing its own processes and orders. For instance, any person disobeying an injunction may automatically be held in contempt of court and sentenced without any jury trial.

Judicial review:

The most impressive function a judiciary may possess is that of judicial review, the power to determine the constitutionality of the law.

Do not act ultra vires:

The judiciary ensures that the executive and the legislature do not exceed their powers. Meanwhile, the judiciary may declare a law made by the executive and legislature ‘ultra-vires’ if such law goes against the constitution of the state. Thereby declaring such law or laws unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect.

Maintenance of peace and order:

Another important functions of the judiciary ids the maintenance of peace and order, protection of life, adequate security in the state. This is done through the exercise of equity, law and application of steps to prevent damages or infliction in the society.


At the federal level, we have the Supreme Court which is the highest court in Nigeria Judicial system and which has the final say of any judicial matter. Other courts at the federal level includes: Federal Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court.

At the state level, we have State High Court, Magistrate Court and the Customary Court. Also there is Sharia court of Appeal in the North that treats cases according to Islamic laws. Courts are the most powerful legal institutions, the courts interprets the laws, pronounce judgement on cases and give punishments to the offenders.

The head of all the courts in Nigeria is called the Chief Justice of the Federation, while judges pronounce judgments in the courts. Also, lawyers, defend cases in the courts.

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