The High Court of Nigeria remained one of the competent courts that deliver Justice. And before we look at some of the functions of high court in Nigeria, I think, it is important to look at the composition of the high court in Nigeria.
For instance, the federal high court in Nigeria composition is the Chief Justice, and the President of the Court of Appeal, and the two Chief Judges of the two high courts, including four but not more than eleven other judges.
All the proceedings carried out in the high court are done according to what Section 74 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 prescribed.
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Proceedings are heard and as well, disposed off by say, three judges or such an uneven number of judges as may be determined by the Chief Justice in any particular case.
It is also important to note that in a situation, where the Chief Justice is absent, any member of the court, who is the most senior among the rank and file can take the place of the Chief Justice and presides over the proceedings.
Besides, Article 122(2) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria has made provision, such that, it empowered the Chief Justice to nominate a judge of the court of Appeal instead of the President of the court of Appeal, if he thinks that the interests of justice required for the judge to sit as a federal court judge.
What Then Are The Functions Of High Court?
Unlike other courts, the high court played an important role by functioning as the last hope for the common man in the society. In this article, I will be explaining some of the functions of the high court of Nigeria.
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1. High Court Tries Persons Who Violate Laws
One of the functions of the high court is to dispense justice to those, who deserved it, when they sought for intervention in the high court.
Once the high court tried offenders and found out that they are guilty, the high court will apportion punishment to those who violated the laws of the land or who infringed on the rights of another.
The punishment awarded to the offenders is according to the kind of crime one is committed. The high court will determined, by the virtue of that crime, the quantity and quality of punishment to be given to the offenders. The high court also decides cases, in respect to granting of compensations to the society members..
2. High Court Makes Laws
The high court of Nigeria can make laws, just like is done in the legislature. In the case of high court, sometimes, it can make laws via the decisions it has taken.
In most cases too, high court’s decision can to a large extent the nature of laws that the legislature has passed. There is no doubt that, the high court do interpret the laws made by the legislature, but even at that, this very function of interpreting these laws can be referred to as lawmaking by the high court. In fact, this account to high court proceedings, since its interpretation, in some extent defined what is law.
Another reason I said that, the high court makes laws is that, high court can also be considered as court of record, at some point, and when it gives judgement, such judgment can be bound upon other courts in the country that are lower in rank than the high court of Nigeria.
These lower courts, for the most part, can decide the cases that are brought to it, in line with those decisions that have already been taken by the high court. This however, explained why court decisions constitute the sources of law that are made by the legislature.
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3. High Court Undertakes Legislation
In most cases for instance, during the high court proceedings, since it is its duty to interpret laws, these laws can be inconsistent and ambiguous.
The position of the high court in a situation such as this, would be for the high court to bring in its wisdom in handling the situation.
The high court will have no other option, other than deciding on the case, using its sense of justice, and fairness and honesty and impartiality, it deemed fit to help the high court deliver on the case brought before it. Doing this, the high court will eventually take to the process of lawmaking, and it is called, equity legislation.
4. High Court Protects The Rights Of Citizens, Who Seek It In The High Court
Every citizen of Nigeria has a constitutional right to seek protection from the high court, should his or her right be threatened or violated by some other member of the public, since one of the functions of the high court is to protect humans’ rights.
This of course, defined one of the roles played by the high court of Nigeria in safeguarding citizens’ rights. Foreigners do have this same right so far as they lived within the shores of Nigeria.
5. High Court Delivers And Enforces Judgments
The high court of Nigeria delivered and enforced judgment. During disputes resolution by the high court, judgements are delivered.
The high court of Nigeria also has the constitutional powers to make sure its judgments delivered, are enforced. The high court of Nigeria, by its constitutional powers has the right to ask whoever, be it an individual, organization, company, even government to obey its decision, and carry out its judgments.
Again, in delivering such judgment, the high court of Nigeria can, in its own wisdom summon any person with a view to find out the truth with respect to the case under trial.
6. High Court Punishes Action Considered, Contempt Of Court
The high court of Nigeria can punished any action, it considered as contempt of court. For instance, in a situation, where a certain fellow is found guilty of contempt of court, that is, refusing to adhere or follow a laid down decision of the high court, or behaving and taking action contrary to the direction given by the high court, or sometimes, if the fellow tries to mislead the high court or if the high court summon the fellow and he or she refuses to obey the court summon or discarding the summon by refusing intentionally to appear before the high court of Nigeria, the high court of Nigeria, by the virtue of its constitutional powers has the right to punish such fellow according to law.
The High Court of Nigeria remained one of the competent courts that deliver Justice.
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