The Centre for Justice & Legal Research examines the importance of access to justice as an essential instrument for the protection of human rights in Nigeria.

The centre examines the reality of the Nigerian situation, analysing the obstacles to the realisation of access to justice in the country. These obstacles include undue delay in the administration of justice, high cost of litigation, reliance on technical rules, locus standi, and illiteracy will be examined in order to develop solutions.

The centre will inquire as to the prospects for improvement of access to justice in Nigeria and opine if mechanisms such as judicial reform and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are encouraged. The centre will place less emphasis on technical rules, but rather focus research on implementation of justice as component of human rights and human security.

There is a wide gulf between official pronouncements of respect for human rights and their actual implementation. The explanation for this appears to be that there still exists a number of substantive and procedural obstacles or impediments that not only inhibit the actual implementation of such measures, but preclude the masses in general from having access to justice in Nigeria.

The question is then what are these impediments and how can they be surmounted to guarantee access to justice for the vast majority of Nigerians? Are there any in-built legal mechanisms that can be deployed to ensure the attainment of access to justice in the country? What has been the response of successive governments to the quest for the enforcement of basic rights through increased access to justice?

We purport to examine these questions and to chart a new course in the quest for the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria through enhanced access to justice. We will first discuss the concept of access to justice and its relationship with human rights, before proceeding to examine the various substantive and procedural obstacles conspiring against effective access to justice.

We will deal with how the legal system can be made more responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians by guaranteeing that individuals and groups will have access to justice in the country, and consequently enhance human rights protection.

Legal Research

Legal Research studies is the analysis of the fundamental principles of law and the role and function of a legal system as it affects the society and politics. Legal research concerns itself with why certain laws are adopted or why there are different legal jurisdictions and how the justice system affects the social structure and norms.

There are two areas in law namely, criminal law and civil law. In criminal law, justice begins when a crime is reported to law enforcement and the verdict is passed. In Nigeria, the constitution forbids citizens to be convicted of an unwritten offence and it equally lays down rules for other stages involved in the “Criminal Justice System”. However, our society and criminal processes justify conviction and punishment by way of imprisonment for the responsible agent who could have prevented his actions.

Consequently, punishment by way of imprisonment or fine has always been an incident of responsibility. Furthermore, the state and society as a whole have a stubborn interest in protecting the community from the threat of further crimes by those who ought to have prevented or controlled their actions. Before the enactment of the Administration of Justice Act in Nigeria, the criminal justice system was majorly polarised into the Criminal Code for the Southern states and the Penal Code for the Northern region. The penal code was fashioned after the Penal code of Sudan which in turn was formed from the Maliki school of sharia law.

In this instance, it becomes noticeable that the justice system in the most northern part of Nigeria is influenced by the regulations major religious group Islam has set and legal research studies aims to find out the role and function of this penal code in the northern social, political and even economic sphere.

For justice sector to triumph in Nigeria, it will require a substantial and enthusiastic Nigerian participation and a full sense of Nigerian “ownership”. Despite the many challenges facing the sector, it is clear from interviews and various written sources that there are a number of positive factors at play that will contribute to a successful reform process.

The judiciary is the foundation upon which democracy grows. This is so because it not only administers justice, it also protects the rights of the citizens and acts as the interpreter and guardian of the constitution. Given this role the, it is not surprising that a significant amount of civilians have some sort of knowledge about the Nigerian judiciary.

Our mission in HSD guides us toward improving legal services throughout the region and beyond, promoting equity and fairness.


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