Know Your Constitution: Part 1

The 1999 Constitution

SECTION 6 (1):

The judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation.

(The judicial powers of Nigeria (relating to the courts) shall be in the Courts that serve Nigeria e.g. the Federal High Courts, the National Industrial Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Take note that these Courts are to all intents and purposes one court but with multiple branches. In essence, one can sue a Federal Government Agency in any Federal High Court branch anywhere in Nigeria.)

SECTION 6(2):

The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State.

(The judicial powers of the State shall be in the Courts that serve the State e.g. the Magistrate Courts, the State High Court, the Customary or the Sharia Court of the State, the Customary or Sharia Court of Appeal.)

(In practice, the Magistrate Courts and the Customary/Sharia Courts are on the same level, the Customary Court of Appeal/Sharia Court of Appeal are on the same level as the High Court and the state High Court and the Federal High Court are on the same level.)

SECTION 6(3):

The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record. 

(Only the courts in the above sections shall be deemed to be superior courts of record in Nigeria.)

SECTION 6(4a):

Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding: – 

the National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a High Court; 

(b) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being.

(The National Assembly can establish courts but those courts will have less power than a High Court. The National Assembly can also abolish the courts it created.)

SECTION 6(5):

This section relates to:- 

(a) the Supreme Court of Nigeria; 

(b) the Court of Appeal; 

(c) the Federal High Court; 

(d) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; 

(e) a High Court of a State 

(f) the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; 

(g) a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; 

(h) the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; 

(i) a Customary Court of Appeal of a State; 

(j) such other courts as may be authorized by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and 

(k) such other court as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws. 

(This is just a list of the Courts and possible Courts in Nigeria presently.)

SECTION 6(6):

(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section – 

(The powers of the judiciary) 

SECTION 6(6a):

(a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law 

(shall apply to all powers of a court of law) 

SECTION 6(6b):

(b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; 

(shall extend to all matters between human beings and matters between the government and persons outside Nigeria or any matters relating to the above, to determine any issue concerning the rights and obligations of any such person)

SECTION 6(6c):

(c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; 

(shall not apply to any issue concerning any law or decision of the Courts concerns the objectives and principles of the policy of Nigeria, except the Constitution allows it)

SECTION 6(6d):

(d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law. 

(shall not, from when this constitution is made, apply to any old or present law made as from January 15, 1966 to determine any issue or the legality of any body to make any laws.) 

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