Traditional Justice Systems in the Nigerian Administration of Justice: Lessons from Kenya

Author: Abdulrazaq Adelodun Daibu

ISSN: 2521-2605
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Department of Private and Property Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, Ilorin. Nigeria
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 10 Issue 1, p. 133 – 168


The Nigerian administration of justice is facing many challenges such as congestion of cases in the courts, delays in the prompt resolution of cases, corruption in the formal justice system, a punitive and retributive approach to crime with little or no room for restitution and reparation of victims of crimes, as well as the adversarial, hostile, and technical nature of litigation. Although the federal government and some states have made efforts in respect of criminal matters by the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) traditional justice systems can effectively ameliorate these challenges in the resolution of both civil and criminal matters. However, the potential benefits of the effective application and operation of traditional justice systems in Nigeria are hindered by their restriction to civil disputes, the lack of a clear and specific legal and policy framework, scant regard for procedural justice, inadequate or lacking of enforcement mechanisms and a retributive and punitive approach of the criminal justice system. This article analyses the nature of the Nigerian traditional justice systems and their relationship with alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms to see how ADR could complement the Nigerian administration of justice. The article further examines the challenges of the Nigerian administration of justice and the practice of traditional justice systems in Kenya to draw lessons for Nigeria. The article argues that the reconciliatory and restorative focus of tranditional justice systems could help resolve some of the challenges facing the Nigerian administration of justice. The article suggests legal, policy, and institutional reforms and their integration for effective application in Nigeria.