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11 Functions of the Nigerian Judiciary

The Judiciary is one, out of the three arms of government known. It is seen as the third organ of  government. It has been vested with the responsibility of interpreting and applying the laws to all cases, as well as, settling disputes in the court of law. In the judiciary, law can only be law when the judges decide it so, while in the course of giving their judgements during various court cases.

To a common man point of view, Judiciary is considered the most vital organ of government. Reason is obvious. The judiciary acts as the peoples’ protector against all  form of possible excesses of legislative arm of government and that of the executive organs.

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The fact that, Judiciary protects the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as, the fundamental rights of the Nigerian citizenry, is what makes judiciary to be more respectable arm of government than other two organs, the Executive and the judiciary.

Function of Nigerian Judiciary

What Is Judiciary?

The judiciary is the third organ of government vested with the power of interpretation and application of law. As a system of court, it provides measures used for the resolution of disputes, and as well gives Justice.

See Also: 15 functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria

Functions Of The Nigerian Judiciary

The judiciary organ of government plays important role in serving as the, last hope of a common man in the society. In this article, I am going to explain as many of its functions that I could.

1. Judiciary Gives Justice To The People

Among the functions of the judiciary is to give Justice to the people, once the people seeks its intervention. Most importantly, judiciary will always awards punishment to those who rightly deserve   after they might have  tried and found guilty to have violated the laws of the state or infringed on the rights of the members of the public. As a last resort to a common man, members of the public who are aggrieved  can always go to the courts and seek redress and possibly compensation.

This happen however, when there is fear of someone trying to harm them or infringe on their rights or in the other situation, when they have considered themselves of suffering any loss caused by someone or an institution. Judiciary functions in giving justice to the members of the public who deserve it, it goes as long as awarding punishment with respect to type of crime committed. Judiciary determined the quantity and quality of punishment for those who violate the law, as well as decides cases that has to do with granting of compensations to the members of the public.

2. Judiciary Interprets and Applies Laws

Another functions of the judiciary is the interpretation and the application of laws to all cases. We are in the know that, judiciary disputes and as well, decides on cases brought before it. In the course of doing this, the judges can be said to  have  interpret and apply laws.

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Read Also: 10 Functions of JAMB in Nigeria

The major function of the judiciary is to interpret law, therefore, all laws at its disposal deserve to be propely interpreted and as well, applied accordingly to all cases. This aspect of judiciary function is done by the judges, and what the Judges called law or what Judges interpreted is what that stands as law.

3. Judiciary Makes Law

The judiciary also play a part in the making of law or law-making. This happen as a result the decisions given by the court of law. Decisions taken by the court to some extent do influence the meaning or determine the scope and the nature of laws the Legislature passed. The act of interpreting laws by the judiciary is what really account to what I mean by law-making by the judiciary, because it is its interpretations that eventually defines what laws are.

Moreover, why do I say that, judiciary makes laws. The reason is obvious. When the higher court, which is also known and called the court of record, when it deliver judgements, its judgements are binding upon the lower courts. The lower court can decide the cases brought to it based on those decisions already made by the higher courts. That is why, it is the Judicial decisions that really constitute a source of law made by the legislature.

4. The Role of Equity Legislation

Sometimes, the law do seems to be inconsistent with some of the laws. In other words, laws could be ambitious, that is to say that the laws are silent, and in such cases, it is incumbent on the Judge to bring in his wisdom.

This is where the Judge’s sense of honesty, fairness, justice and impartially is necessary to decides on the case. Sometimes, in the cause of deciding on such cases, the Judge will indirectly involved himself in the process of law making. That is why it is called equity legislation.

5. Judiciary Protects People’s Rights

The judiciary is vested with the power of safeguarding the rights of the Nigerian citizenry. That is its supreme responsibility as the third organ of government. In the case, where the citizen’s rights is threatened, or maybe, violated by whoever, the individual has the constitution right as a Nigerian citizen to seek his protection from the Nigerian judiciary, because one major function of the judiciary is the protection of the rights of the Nigerian citizens, even foreigners, since it has to do with human rights.

Read Also: 7 Roles of Traditional Rulers in Achieving Stable Democracy in Nigeria

6. Judiciary Is The Guardian Of The Constitution

We are told that, the judiciary’s responsibility is to interpret laws. Since it interprets laws, it is also incumbent on the judiciary to protect the laws it interpret hence, the judiciary, being an arm of government, has a responsibility of guarding the Nigerian constitution. It acts as a guardian to these laws.

That is why it is also incumbent on the judiciary to embark on judicial review over some of the Nigerian laws with a view to ascertain whether or not such laws are in accordance with the spirit of the Nigerian constitution. Having reviewed such laws and found out that they are unconstitutional, the judiciary can rejected these laws and the laws will remain invalid, even in the future. This is one of the power vested in the judiciary, and the court referred to this power as the ‘power of judicial review’.

7. Judiciary Get Its Decisions And Judgements Enforced

Apart from interpreting laws, disputes cases and deliver judgements, judiciary is empowered to ensure that its decisions and judgements are enforced. It has the constitution rights to ask the Executive arm of government to respect its decisions and as well, direct it to carry out same.

Besides before the judiciary deliver judgements, it has the rights to summon whoever, should it needs to know the truth from whoever concerned.

Be that as it may, in any case where an individual is guilty as a result of not following the decision laid down by the court, or taking actions considered to be against the direction given by the court, or attempting to mislead the court, or discarding the court summon by refusing to appear before the court as the case may be,  the court, with its power can punish the fellow for what the court described as the ‘contempt of court’.

Read Also: Retirement Age in Nigeria for Various Institutions and Professions

8. Judiciary Special Role in a Federation

The judiciary has more vital role to play, where a federal system of government is practice, such as the Nigerian situation. This role include, guarding the constitution and as well as arbitering disputes involving say, the federal and the state governments.

As an organ of government, the judiciary in this case is considered as an umpire, where it acts impartially and independently between the federal government and the state governments as the case may be. Every dispute involving the federal government and the state government is settled by the judiciary arm of government.

9. Judiciary Runs The Judicial Administration

The judiciary is known as the third arm of government hence, is not a government’s department. It is separated from the other two organs of government, the Executive arm and the Legislature thus, it is independent of its actions, organization and officials.

Judiciary is vested with the power to frame its rules and to enforce same, as well as decide on the nature of judicial organisation within the states of the federation.

The judiciary is in charge of its recruitment and this involves every personal working in the court, including  the magistrates, even as it formulates its rules,  enforces them in order to ensure effective, efficient and orderly administration in the judiciary.

10. Advisory Functions of the Judiciary

In most cases, the court is authorized to make opinion or give advisory views to leaders, be it a President of the country, a Governor of a state, even some politicians that is bothering on legal matters. The court is vested with this responsibility particularly when it is of public importance.

11. Juduciary Conducts Judicial Inquiries

More often, issues of state important do come up that normally begs for inquiries. In such a situation, court Judges are normally called upon to serve such purposes. Once Enquiry Commissions are constituted, Judges are always the people to head such commissions.

Some of the issues that warrant such inquiries could be those issues that have to do with  alleged errors or sometimes, omissions on the part of government, sometimes too, on the part of some public servants. The role of Judges who head such Commissions of enquiry is to investigate on some important and complicated incidents and other problems.

Read Also: 12 Functions of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria Community Development


The judiciary as the arm of government is vested with the power of interpretion and application of law. As a system of court, it provides measures used for the resolution of disputes, and as well gives Justice.

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Joseph Athanasius

Joseph Athanasius is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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